Monday, February 16, 2009

Unemployment Apples and Oranges

Frankly, I don't care about republicans or democrats. But the last thing that the current economy needs is folks who are foolishly ignorant about government statistics with bully pulpits, because it is already a hard economic problem to solve. In a politically motivated op-ed that should never have made it past the editors:
Consider the job losses that Mr. Obama always cites. ... The latest survey pegs U.S. unemployment at 7.6%. That's more than three percentage points below the 1982 peak (10.8%) and not even a third of the peak in 1932 (25.2%). You simply can't equate 7.6% unemployment with the Great Depression.
Sadly, nobody has informed Bradley Schiller about the difference between how stats were collected in 1932 and how BLS publishes the numbers now.

Currently, there are in fact 6 different measures of unemployment, and they are labeled U1 to U6. The current 7.6% number quoted in the WSJ is U3, and it omits "discouraged workers" (among others) who would like to work but have not yet found work. In a protracted slump, U6 will increase as people become "discouraged" and are dropped from U3.

The current U6 is already 13.9%, and it is rising. Do you really want to let that number hit the 25.2% like in the first Great Depression?

No comments: