Sunday, July 18, 2010


One of the real dangers of the Dems sitting on 9.5% unemployment and acting like it's the new normal is that nobody believes the unemployment rate is just 9.5%.  The reality of the workforce is that with the millions of underemployed who are being forced to cut hours, work contract jobs or work just part time, and the long-term unemployed who have "left the workforce" and have "stopped looking for work" the reality is much, much worse than 9.5%.  It's really more than twice that.
Raghavan Mayur, president at TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, follows unemployment data closely. So, when his survey for May revealed that 28% of the 1,000-odd households surveyed reported that at least one member was looking for a full-time job, he was flummoxed.

"Our numbers are always very accurate, so I was surprised at the discrepancy with the government's numbers," says Mayur, whose firm owns the TIPP polling unit, a polling partner for
Investors' Business Daily and Christian Science Monitor. After all, the headline number shows the U.S. unemployment rate today is 9.5%, with a total of 14.6 million jobless people.

However, Mayur's polls continued to find much worse figures. The June poll turned up 27.8% of households with at least one member who's unemployed and looking for a job, while the latest poll conducted in the second week of July showed 28.6% in that situation. That translates to an unemployment rate of over 22%, says Mayur, who has started questioning the accuracy of the Labor Department's jobless numbers.
Now this fiddling with Labor Department numbers has been going on for a long time now.  It's not just Obama, but Bush and Clinton too.  The Labor Department changed its formula back in 1994 to do more mathematical modeling and less actual counting. 
The Labor Department does have an estimate of all this, and it's called the U-6. (The official unemployment rate is called U-3.)  That U-6 number, the "Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force" still only comes out to 16.5% for June.  Now, that's bad enough, but Mayur's polls here are showing that the real U-6 is 22% or more, maybe 40% higher than it really is.

Americans instinctively know something is very, very wrong.  The more people you know, the more worried you are.  Your sister's kids can't find a summer job.  The guy across the street's been looking for a job for nine months and is taking care of the kids and doing carpool now while he prays his wife doesn't get downsized.   Your best friend dodged yet another layoff wave downtown.  Cousin Jane's been out of work since last summer when they closed the plant.  The Andersons left the neighborhood three months ago and have moved back in with her mother, their house joining the other six for sale signs on the block.  Chuck from school joined the military because nobody else was hiring, and he just hit 40.  You don't feel guilty when Paula from church tells you she was at the food bank (because you were there last week) but you do feel a twinge when she apologizes for not having you over because "the apartment they live in now is a lot smaller than the house was."

Needless to say, nobody's buying that 9.5% number anymore.  Subconsciously they know it's much, much worse.  

And they know that Republicans are telling them "Sorry we can't help you, we need to cut the deficit.  We're broke too."  And they know that the Democrats are nodding their heads sadly and saying "Gosh they're right, we have to tighten our belts too."

And they ask themselves "Why did I vote for Obama and the Democrats again, anyway?"

No comments: