Why the Government's Unemployment Rate is Dangerously Deceptive – And the Dark Reality it Hides
The following post comes to us from Les Leopold, author of The Looting of America: How Wall Street’s Game of Fantasy Finance Destroyed Our Jobs, Pensions, and Prosperity—and What We Can Do About It. It appeared originally on the web at Alternet.org.
I’m here to confirm everyone’s gut sense that the way the government measures unemployment is a lie, and it matters.
The latest statistics compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicate the unemployment rate is 8.9 percent and the economy added 192,000 jobs in February. Yes, that’s better than a year ago when the rate peaked at 10.4 percent and we lost 35,000 jobs.
But there are two big problems with those numbers:
First let’s look more closely at the 192,000 new jobs that were created last month. It’s seems like a good looking number – like filling up two big football stadiums with people and giving them all jobs. But not quite. We need about 100,000 new jobs a month just to keep up with population growth. That means we can only move toward full employment if the economy creates many more than 100,000 new jobs a month. So in effect, one of those football stadiums each month is mostly filled with young people just coming into the labor force. And the other football stadium in February seats the 92,000 unemployed folks who actually found new jobs.
The pathetic pace of job creation
Since November when jobs growth started again, the economy has added an average of 136,000 jobs a month. Take out the 100,000 for new workers and it means we’re gaining ground on full-employment at only 36,000 jobs a month.
How far do we have to go? Using the most conservative numbers, we’re still down 7.5 million jobs since December 2007, when the Wall Street crash really started wrecking the rest of the economy. Do the math. Divide 7.5 million jobs lost by 36,000 per month of net new job growth and you get a little over 208 months or 17.4 years until we get back to pre-crash levels. That’s an entire generation! And that assumes we won’t have another recession or Wall Street crash. Fat chance.
But the darkest data buried in the BLS statistics, and in numbers the media tends to ignore because they don’t understand them –and they are numbers that are truly frightening– have to do with the long-term unemployed and the people who have given up looking for work.
Continue reading this article at Alternet.
Les Leopold’s The Looting of America is available now.
It’s more than an oxymoron. Massive Small is a framework for urban development that can make cities more sustainable and resilient. But how does it work and does it make sense for the future? The following excerpt is from Making Massive Small Change by Kelvin Campbell. It has been adapted for the web. The Massive Small…Read More
For centuries, humans have had a very strong interest in oil and it’s only getting more intense. Our dependency is reaching a concerning level which Matthieu Auzanneau speaks to in his book Oil, Power, and War. The following article was written by Frank Kaminski and was published on Resilience.org. In Oil, Power, and War, French…Read More
For generations, we’ve worked collectively as a society to build our cities into vibrant communities where we can progress and flourish together. Over the years, however, we’ve lost the art of collective and community evolution as our governments step in with their big ideas for urban growth – many of which come at a steep…Read More
When we reflect on the history of the world and the progress of human society, it’s incredible to think about where we started and where we are today. We’ve innovated, we’ve discovered, we’ve grown, we’ve developed. But at what cost? The following is an excerpt from Oil, Power, and War by Matthieu Auzanneau. It has been…Read More
What if farms and food production were integrated into every aspect of urban living—from special assessments to create new farms and food businesses to teaching people how to grow fruits and vegetables so farmers can focus on staple crops. Urban farming is a story of recovery, of land and food, of people, and of the…Read More