The Campaign Spot

The Persuasive Argument That Unemployment Is Really 22 Percent

This is why the usual, soon-to-be-retired “job saved or created” spin doesn’t work, nor do most other efforts by politicians to persuade voters that the economy is doing better than they think:

You keep reading that the unemployment rate stayed at 10 percent. But the press has been playing up the 17.3 percent rate that includes those “underemployed,” meaning they can’t find a full-time job but want one. I’ve been mentioning that under-employed figure — called U-6 by the Labor Department — for years and I’m glad everyone else has finally caught up. But that larger figure doesn’t include a huge number of unemployed folks who have given up looking for work because they feel the search is hopeless. Last Friday’s report said 661,000 such people left the labor force in December. If you count these hopelessly unemployed, the real jobless rate is probably close to 22 percent.

I suspect the Obama team has little sense of just how much the stimulus is hurting them, and is going to hurt them, in the years to come. They said it would create jobs; even if you can point to some jobs here or some jobs there, most Americans interpreted “this bill will create jobs” as a synonym for “this bill will make it easier for me to find a job.” Instead, we’re in terrible shape, and are probably going to remain in terrible shape for at least the year to come.

UPDATE: A reader offers that unemployment should be 14.7 percent, and with underemployment, it’s 22 percent . . .


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