Time for a little truth about the economic crisis: Screwing with the Unemployment Statistics

Coming to a city near you: mass unemployment and lines at a soup kitchen like this scene from the Great Depression I. Are we ready for GD II?

By Dave Lindorff

Something is screwy about unemployment numbers out of Washington. 

In late July, just before the end of the supplemental $600 weekly checks for people collecting unemployment benefits, the New York Times reported that 30 million were receiving those checks

That’s 30 million laid-off workers who qualified for unemployment benefits, which is not everyone who was laid off, since many people who get work for a wage don’t qualify for unemployment compensation. 

For example, between mid-March and the end of the first week of May, according to US News,  33 million laid off workers applied for unemployment compensation benefits. At least three million of them were denied benefits for one reason or another. That of course doesn’t count the people who lost work but hadn’t worked enough weeks to qualify and who never even bothered to file. It also doesn’t count many “independent contractors” who were not being defined as employees by the companies paying them, which would include many people working as gardeners, roofers, carpenters, in nail salons and as cab drivers.  But just for the hell of it, let’s just go with that 33 million number, and say that is the number of unemployed in the US. 

Now recall that the US has a population of almost 330 million. 

How many of those people are working age?  We can define working age, for the sake of argument, as 18 to, say, 67. (I’m assuming that latter number, situated midway between 65, when people qualify for Medicare and often decided to retire, and 70, the age when a person can collect the maximum amount of Social Security benefits per month, will balance out.) Using Census Bureau data (which I tinkered with to get the number of 18 and 19 year-olds, as well as of 66-69 year olds), I come our with about 219 million. Now a lot of those people don’t get classified by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of the labor force either because they are full-time students, or have never worked (stay-at-home parents, for example, with no access to or funding for daycare, or those disabled and unable to work, or already retired), but again for the sake of argument, let’s just call them all workers. 

Well, what percent of 219 million is 33 million?  The answer is 15%.   I’d say that means that the US has clearly got an unemployment rate of at least 15%.  So what is the BLS saying the unemployment rate is?  Well, in their unemployment report for July, The BLS was listing the jobless rate as being 10.2%.  That figure is 50% lower than the percent of workers who are receiving unemployment benefits!  

How can that be? It can’t. It’s just wrong.

Part of the problem is that the BLS, which maybe should be just called the BS, doesn’t consider someone to be unemployed and part of the labor force if they have not looked for work in more than a month… 

For the rest of this article by DAVE LINDORFF in ThisCantBeHappening!, the uncompromised, collectively run, six-time Project Censored Award-winning online alternative news site, please go to:  https://thiscantbehappening.net/screwing-with-the-unemployment-statistics-by-dave-lindorff/      

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