Whose cooking the books? — everyone

Today’s Las Vegas newspaper editorial cites an International Business Times account of just how poorly the official unemployment rate reflects the actual state of available jobs and employment.

The official rate is 4.9 percent — the lowest since early 2008 — which is the percent of those in the “labor force” with just about any kind of job.

But both papers quote private equity executive Leo Hindery, a longtime Democratic Party economic adviser, who cites data that show there are 2 million who “were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months,” as well as 5.9 million workers “unable to find full-time jobs or who’ve had their hours cut back” and 4.3 million who say they want work but haven’t sought employment — jacking up the percent to what Hindery calls the real unemployment rate: 12.1 percent.

The IBT article goes on to explain that the current method for counting joblessness was established after World War II. It quotes Hindery as saying: “Both parties sat down and basically said if we ever tell the American people the truth about the employment rate, things could get ugly for whichever one of us is in power. So they made a pact between themselves and with the devil to not count everyone.

For years the official jobless rate and the underemployment rate were seldom more than a couple of points off, but prior to the recession the underemployment rate began to exceed the official rate by double, Hindery said.


Over the years the methodology has been changed. In 1994 the definition of “discouraged” workers was revised, thus reducing their number.

“In late 2002 — amid a recession — President George W. Bush’s administration discontinued the Labor Department’s mass layoff report, prompting Democrats to accuse the White House of suppressing negative economic news,” IBT relates. “Democrats managed to restore the regular report for a decade, but it was eliminated again in 2013 by the Obama administration as part of a budget-cutting sequestration agreement with congressional Republicans. With President Obama championing the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership, the budget deal also followed through on the Obama administration’s previous proposal to cut a BLS unit that helped track the job-loss effects of trade deals.”

The report concludes by quoting Gallup CEO Jim Clifton as saying: “The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.”


5 comments on “Whose cooking the books? — everyone

  1. nyp says:

    Oh God, not this again.

  2. Rincon says:

    “The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.”

    Maybe Nevada’s economic problems are greater than Illinois (I doubt it), but here, anyone who can’t find a job is either lazy or dead. There’s lots of work to be had. Besides, aren’t you the guys who say that people on welfare are just abusing the system? Isn’t it you who claim that any soul with ambition can find work? Quit flip flopping. Which way is it?

  3. dave72 says:

    It should be “who’s” cooking the books.

  4. dave72 says:

    Someone call Oxford, English is evolving again. The word “whose,” which used to denote possession. Now also means “who is,” which was once shortened into the contraction “who’s.” Silly me.

  5. Steve says:

    Well, dave72, that IS how the language “evolves” isn’t it?

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