Tough, you have to. It’s like broccoli: you might as well learn to like it.
The unemployment rate, at 5.7 percent, changed little in January and has shown no net change since October. The number of unemployed persons, at 9.0 million, was little changed in January.
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for teenagers (18.8 percent) increased in January. The jobless rates for adult men (5.3 percent), adult women (5.1 percent), whites (4.9 percent), blacks (10.3 percent), Asians (4.0 percent), and Hispanics (6.7 percent) showed little or no change.
In January, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 2.8 million.
The labor force participation rate rose by 0.2 percentage point to 62.9 percent, following a decline of equal magnitude in the prior month. Total employment, as measured by the household survey, increased by 435,000 in January, and the employment-population ratio was little changed at 59.3 percent.
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was essentially unchanged in January at 6.8 million. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.
There. Don’t you feel better?
If you, a family member or anyone is unemployed and has subsequently given up on finding a job — if you are so hopelessly out of work that you’ve stopped looking over the past four weeks — the Department of Labor doesn’t count you as unemployed. That’s right. While you are as unemployed as one can possibly be, and tragically may never find work again, you are not counted in the figure we see relentlessly in the news — currently 5.6%. Right now, as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work or severely underemployed. Trust me, the vast majority of them aren’t throwing parties to toast “falling” unemployment.
There’s another reason why the official rate is misleading. Say you’re an out-of-work engineer or healthcare worker or construction worker or retail manager: If you perform a minimum of one hour of work in a week and are paid at least $20 — maybe someone pays you to mow their lawn — you’re not officially counted as unemployed in the much-reported 5.6%. Few Americans know this.
Yet another figure of importance that doesn’t get much press: those working part time but wanting full-time work. If you have a degree in chemistry or math and are working 10 hours part time because it is all you can find — in other words, you are severely underemployed — the government doesn’t count you in the 5.6%. Few Americans know this.
There’s no other way to say this. The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.
A Big Lie trumpeted by the New York Times and the rest of the useless press. But not here.