The Magical Mystery Tour continues to fascinate me. Unemployment numbers continue to drop while the unemployment and Welfare roles continue to expand. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, the numbers recently took another downturn (positive measure) to 6.6% from 6.7%. Unemployment also fell just before the 2012 election. That happenstance along with the video that sparked the Benghazi massacre helped the president’s re-election campaign. It was like the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour. If you choose to believe, “They’re coming to take you away…”
Being an inquisitive guy, I have to look into things like this. I can’t simply accept what others want me to believe. With the unemployment numbers in particular, there is cause for skepticism. Let’s look at how this may have happened.
In this example I’ll use a population of 1,000 able bodied potential workers. Let’s say that 934of them enjoy full-time employment and a regular paycheck. That is 93.4% employment. Conversely, that is 6.6% unemployment. Right now, however, the number of unemployed is considerably higher.
Conveniently, the BLS drops the potential workers who are now beat down and discouraged by the fact that they cannot get a job in their field or any other. Many of those same people have applied for jobs that are well below their skill, knowledge, education or ability levels. Engineers can’t get work in manufacturing, sales, retail or burger flipping because employers don’t like turnover. They are afraid that an engineer will jump ship as soon as a job comes along in his or her field and constantly training new employees is unproductive.
Out-of-work pilots, engineers, sales managers, production supervisors and the like eventually tire of hearing “I cannot hire you because you’re overqualified for the position”. Most will downplay their education and former positions to accommodate the needs of a potential employer. When they still cannot find a job they abandon the fight, accept unemployment insurance and / or Welfare for subsistence and adjust their lifestyle to accommodate the lack of income.
Because these potential employees gave up the fight, the BLS no longer counts them. They are still unemployed, just not counted. The BLS buries the actual figure so deep that I cannot find it. You know that your neighbor two houses down is in foreclosure because he or she has been out of work for the past nine months, thirteen months or two years. You know that your uncle Fred cannot find work and moved in with his kids. You know your own kids have given up the fight and are still living with you, or living with you again.
You also know that your buddy Jack now works two part-time jobs attempting to make ends meet. Part-time, full-time, the BLS doesn’t account for that. To the BLS, a job is a job and two fifteen hour jobs equals two jobs for the purpose of their statistics. Two jobs at fifteen hours each rather than one at forty hours brings the total number of man-hours worked down by 25%. That doesn’t count either. So, for our project let us use what I believe are realistic comparative numbers.
Using the 1,000 eligible workers, let’s say that the Bureau of Labor Statistics no longer counts 250. That 250, plus the 66 unemployed, that they do count is 316 people who are not working. That is an honest 31.6% (316/1000=.316) unemployment rate. That is almost 1/3 of potential American workers who are idle, either by choice or circumstance. It doesn’t bode well for a robust economy.
Drop a tab and take the Magical Mystery Tour of government