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Unemployment: Media Short on Truth

October 14, 2008

We’ve heard reports all year citing increased joblessness, with record layoffs for many months this year. If you are in touch with the news, you have probably heard.  If you heard former international banker, Nobel Prize laureate and economist, Joseph Stiglitz talk on CSPAN this morning, you also heard his qualified opinion of the lack of support for U.S. unemployed workers. The U.S. has one of the weakest unemployment provisions in the world for a prime economy. He badmouthed Congress for lack of action toward American workers. Earlier this year, Congress considered extending unemployment benefits, but hasn’t seen fit to do so. Now the country is in a larger bind with unemployment and Congress still cannot see their way clear to improve the system or expand coverage for the unemployed and disenfranchised of the nation. Instead, we bail out banking and mortgage criminals that need to go to prison in many cases because politicians are afraid of failure. The American citizen is still pretty much on his or her own.

TNTalk! is no stranger to the topic of gainful employment, yet just before the election seemed to be a good time to have a go at the real truth to the degree you can get that truth straight from the source. One fact is certain: you cannot count on the media to announce the correct figure. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics summarizes national unemployment firmly at 6.1 percent for the month of September, a figure that is much closer to the  truth is still fairly easy to get if you want to read a less popular document put out by the same fine federal government folks.

happily unemployed

happily unemployed

The U.S. Bureau of Statistics also publishes a less known table of data known as Table A-12, referred to as the Alternative Measures of Labor Underutilization. For the real figures, visit line U-6 highlighting the “total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers.” The figure for September 2008 is estimated at 11 percent. 

Please keep in mind that the reported 6.1 percent figure counts unemployed Americans who are receiving unemployment benefits. When your benefits run out, you are no longer unemployed. That is the magic of accounting honesty in the United States. No wonder we have a fiscal crisis. ~ E. Manning

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 14, 2008 11:24 pm

    I agree — great post and blog! Here is a piece on political strategy by a 13 year old that you might find interesting:

    http://culturedecoded.wordpress.com/2008/10/14/the-importance-of-the-final-presidential-debate/

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