Unemployment Statistics….

I hear all kinds of numbers when the unemployment figures for the U.S.A. are discussed. To listen to someone that has never studied statistics explain to me an unemployment rate, how a statistic is calculated and all about the “shell game” involved and all nefarious conspiracies that go along with the unemployment figures can be a bit frustrating, but, then I just see the entertainment value I am getting in a bad situation.

In any statistical analysis, method, variables and other “messy” stuff come into play. Jim Stratton at the Orlando Sentinel had a reader that wasn’t buying into the drop in unemployment in Florida…..

“The government has manipulated how they count the unemployed,” he wrote in an email. “Since I don’t currently receive unemployment checks, I’m not counted. There are plenty of others like me.”

Jim retorted:

To determine the statewide jobless rate, officials do not simply report the number of people receiving unemployment. That would understate the problem because fewer than 35 percent of those out of work qualify for jobless benefits.

Instead, officials combine state data with the findings of a national monthly survey of about 60,000 households. The federal survey asks who has a job, who is out of work and who is looking for work.

Method or madness? Maybe both. Scandal or conspiracy? Naw. Just folks trying to persuade.

But, then we have people using all kinds of numbers when it is convenient. Apparently, Joe Biden and the President will use different numbers according to the Washington Post.  There seems to be a bit of confusion about “overall” job growth and private sector job growth. Private sector growth seems to be pretty OK,  sad to say the “overall” job growth is tepid, mostly due to public sector losses. Public Sector mean firemen, teachers, folks like that.

Let’s check in with the numbers by the folks a little “Right of the Dial”. According to biased sources the web site Shadow Government Statistics webmaster, John Williams, is a self proclaimed statistician that he said he spread his sage advice and observations to the New York Times and Business Investor’s Weekly. No articles written by him have been found in either publication. But, just for giggles here is his latest statistics. John Williams says it is around 23%. That is pretty close to the Depression of the 30’s, which was around 25% at peak. He didn’t explain his method.


Well, there are several ways the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates unemployment figures. It’s a scale system adding in more factors, starting with “U3” to “U6.” Moving up the scale factors are added like, available to work, working part time instead of full time, and the category of “marginally attached.”

My conclusion: The job market still sucks. Spruill County is at 10.5% (not seasonally adjusted.) Seasonally adjusted. Another variable. My cousins in Whitfield County are at 12.5% . I can make it anecdotal. I am still looking for a job. Thank heavens, Daddylonglegs and I saw the crash coming.

I look at all these austerity measures in place in Europe and the results of austerity in Britain as double dip recession in Britain and I have to think, why the heck would that work here? I mean, for real?

6 thoughts on “Unemployment Statistics….

  1. A long time ago Darryl Huff wrote a book How To Lie With Statistics. Easy to read and enlightening. A depression is defined by 10% + unemployment. So unemployment is operationally defined in whatever way works to ensure that 10% is not exceeded and preferably not reached in the first place.

    Just as the CPI Index that determines and defines inflation is manipulated. When one of the variables in the Index creeps up, it is removed and a slower growth variable put in its place. It is important to keep the CPI Index as low as possible because the COLA’S are derived from it.A 1% difference leads to a fortune in lost govt monies in SS an SSI payments as well as govt pension funds. So it is necessary to fudge numbers.

    Anyone who continues to believe the numbers the Talking Heads read out on the TV every night probably deserve to be hoodwinked. I really dxon’t believe the masses are fooled, but they pretend to be fooled.

  2. Officially, if you’re not collecting unemployment you’re not counted as unemployed. Yes, yes, yes, when we get into the U5 and U6 indicators you will be counted as something other than formally unemployed – marginally employed, self-employed, semi-retired, selling drugs… whatever, but for the bimbo bottle blonde bobble heads of the multi-millionaire mainstream media (which of course includes our “politicians”) you are only unemployed if you are collecting unemployment.

    I had 99 weeks to figure it out, about 99 weeks ago. Here on the Oregon High Desert were running at a little over twelve percent U3, but when look to both the U6 – the marginally employed, self-employed, semi-retired, those selling drugs, and take in to account to history of the region and the nature of the “business” we are in we’re looking at thirty-three to thirty-five percent. And we know it.

  3. Lmao. No, no conspiracy here. They’ve only changed how Unemployment gets counted five times in the last thirty years, and each change has only coincidentally led to further undercounting of the unemployment. Nothing nefarious about that at all. Just different aspects of the media, political and government elite deciding to get together to ‘persuade’ us.

    What’s the definition of a conspiracy again?

  4. To “conspire” is Greek to “breathe”, “conspiracy” to “breathe together”.

    I think what you’re really looking for is “collude”, and “collusion”, which is of course “to conspire”.

    Not much point in painting a pretty picture, though, if you’ve no place to hang it.

  5. I always wait for and get a lot out of the analysis of jobs numbers done by Hugh at Correntewire.com. He explains what base numbers he uses, how he gets them, how he uses them. Well worth reading.

    Here’s a list of all his blog entries (posts).

    I had been following Shadow Government Statistics, and Hugh pointed out where he felt –and then showed how he arrived at that number– John Williams of Shadow Stats was not quite correct and somewhat overstated the overall unemployed, disemployed, unwilling part timers, etc., in his U6 number.

    Shadow Stats currently has the overall complete unemployment number in the mid-20’s (appears on the chart to be 24-25 or 26%). Hugh’s most recent post has it at 17.6%.


    …. I have problems with the BLS undercount because it does not track with economic events. So I have developed a different way to measure it. I compare the current labor force to where we would expect it to be in a solid economic expansion: labor participation rate of 67%. The difference between these two is my measure of the undercount.I calculate an alternate number for the BLS undercount.

    .67(242.784 million) = 162.665 million

    162.665 million – 154.365 million = 8.300 million

    This is an increase of 462,000 from the March figure of 7.838 million. Using these numbers, we can calculate more accurate numbers for both unemployment and disemployment.

    Real unemployment: 12.500 million (U-3 unemployment) + 8.300 million (undercount) = 20.800 million (up 289,000 from 20.511 million in March)

    Real unemployment rate: 20.800 million / 162.665 million = 12.8% (up from 12.6% in March)

    Real disemployment: Real unemployment + involuntary part time workers = 20.800 million + 7.853 million = 28.653 million (up 470,000 from 28.183 million in March)

    Real disemployment rate: 28.653 million / 162.665 million = 17.6% (up from 17.3% in March)

    While the BLS report presents an employment picture little changed from March or even slightly improved due to the reduction in the unemployment rate, my calculations show a clearly worsening unemployment/disemployment one.


    Lots more at the link. And in all those other links. As a not so numeric person, I find his analysis invaluable in understanding, as much as possible, reality and how much we’re being manipulated by BLS and government in power reporting.

  6. Thanks, Jawbone!
    My totally unscientific gut feeling goes with the “disemployment” rate at 17.6%.
    Appreciate the links!

Comments are closed.