Saturday, February 07, 2004

Don't let Bush whitewash the unemployment numbers 


Although the jobless rate dropped, the average length of unemployment grew to 19.8 weeks last month from 19.6 weeks in December and from 18.5 weeks in January of last year, on a seasonally adjusted basis. The share of jobless workers who had been unemployed for more than six months grew to 22.7 percent last month from 22.3 percent the month before, and was up from 20.3 percent in January 2003.

Many economists, including some Fed officials, say the unemployment rate understates the slack in the job market because it doesn't count people who have stopped looking for work but say they still want a job. When these people are added, plus those who say they are working part time because they can't find full-time work, the rate of underused labor was 9.9 percent last month, unchanged from December.

Oh, and don't fall for the "corrected numbers" line. Those don't help Bush either. From the LA Times here:

Administration officials, such as Treasury Secretary John Snow and National Economic Council Director Stephen Friedman, have argued for months that the smaller, household survey was giving the more accurate picture of the labor market. They have suggested that when the Labor Department got around to correcting its establishment survey results, they would show job gains instead of losses.

But the latest job numbers include corrections of the establishment survey results through March of last year, and they show that the economy lost 163,000 more jobs than previously thought.

So all the hullabulllo about the improving job market doesn't mean squat, if you look at the whole picture and include everybody. I guess all the financial MWs and the economists must be bears—if they can manage to talk the market up, even briefly, they can cash in. Not that I'm cynical.... Nah, they would never do that...

A-and another thing:

YABL: "A uniter not a divider." Remember that one? In jobs, as everywhere else, Bush and the truth have 180-degrees between them. Here, those with jobs are being slowly but surely divided from those without out. Once, if you lost your job, you got another one, if you waited for awhile, moved, changed careers... Now, that's not happening. We're slowly creating an underclass of people who will never work again. All very congenial to people who believe that the way to motivate people is through threats and fear.

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