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U.S. Unemployment Rate: Truth in Statistics

November 23, 2008

unemployment-seasonal-102008As the economic outlook worsens, job cut announcements have arrived like a hard ball pitch from businesses across the nation totaling nearly 350,000 losses this month. Recent applications for unemployment insurance jumped to 542,000 in one week. Deterioration in the corporate job market is clearly accelerating, but are you really surprised this time of year?

The Federal Reserve, now the arbiter of all things official, conservatively predicted the unemployment rate will stall around 6.5% through the holidays, while moving up to 7.6% in 2009. Those statistics are far from the jobless rate forecast of 9% for next year with further increases in 2010 that statisticians at Goldman Sachs have forecast.

The American citizen is still pretty much on his or her own. The small business person even more so.

Where are statistics that are closer to the truth as far as real unemployment statistics are concerned? Uncle Sam still holds many details. As you are probably aware, the Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps track of such things, announcing monthly figures as well as running tallies. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics summarizes national unemployment firmly at 6.5 percent for the month of October, a figure that is much closer to the truth is still fairly easy to get if you want to read a less popular government document.

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 full unemployment 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 October 2008 is estimated at 11.8 percent. The number is actually larger because the government does not go out of its way to keep track of disenfranchised workers that have stopped looking for work.


If you are currently unemployed, you certainly are underutilized for the time being. Being totally dependent on Corporate America for employment is the way Uncle Sam likes life, but that isn’t best for you as an American citizen. It is time to think about starting your own successful business whether you have any cash or not.

Please keep in mind that the reported monthly unemployment percent figure counts unemployed Americans who are receiving unemployment benefits. When your benefits run out, you are no longer part of the mainstream unemployed and vanish from the numbers announced by the media and federal government.

~ E. Manning

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 23, 2008 2:29 pm

    You know with all this talk of unemployment, and the numbers rising in a few of the worlds major economies, you would think it would be more apparent in our mainstream society.

    Maybe it’s because I work as a freelancer, but I just don’t see it affecting anything yet.

    “Exactly, “freelancing”, as you say is privately-owned small business, which CAN entirely insulate you in an economic downturn. It has happened with this writer back in the 1980s when everyone else was moving out of their homes. ~ E.M.”

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