Yesterday (December 2, 2011) the MSM gleefully reported that the national unemployment rate for November was “only” 8.6 percent. It took some chicanery to get the rate that low. I believe it was Ronald Reagan who said, “It’s not what people don’t know that is the problem, it’s what they know that is not correct.” But regardless of who said it, the quote captures the attitude that the MSM and this administration is trying to advance.
President Barack Obama said yesterday that the economy added 120,000 jobs in November, and that the unemployment rate dropped from 9 percent to 8.6 percent. He called that an ‘improvement.” There were 140,000 private sector jobs created, but government lost 20,000 jobs. The rate drop was accomplished because some 315,000 people had given up looking for work in November and were not counted as unemployed. The rest of this NPR article tries to put a positive spin on the rate drop. But Kathy Bostjancic, director of macroeconomic analysis at The Conference Board, wrote, “These modest job gains are still not enough to propel economic growth to a sustainable 2 percent growth path. And while consumer sentiment is not as gloomy as this past summer, it remains quite low this holiday season.” No economic data that shows 315,000 Americans giving up and dropping out of the workforce can be called an improvement.
From Portal Seven we learn there are six unemployment rates, named U1 through U6:
- U1 is the percentage of the labor force that has been unemployed 15 weeks or longer. Over 40 percent of the unemployed have been out of work for 6 months or more. Last month, (November), it was 5.1 percent and was 3.1 percent when Obama took office.
- U2 is the percentage of the labor force who lost jobs or completed temporary work, workers who were involuntarily fired or laid off from their jobs. Again, in November it was 4.9 percent and was 4.8 percent when Obama took office.
- U3 is the official unemployment rate as per the International Labour Organization (ILO) definition, the proportion of the civilian labor force that is unemployed but actively seeking employment. This is the rate reported by the MSM. In November it was 8.6 percent and was 7.7 percent when Obama took office.
- U4 is comprised of U3 plus “discouraged workers,” or those who have stopped looking for work because current economic conditions make them believe that no work is available for them. In November, it was 9.3 percent and was 8.2 percent when Obama took office.
- U5 is comprised of U3 plus U4 plus other “marginally attached workers,” or “loosely attached workers,” or those who “would like” and are able to work, but have not looked for work recently. U5 was 10.2 percent in November, and was 9.0 percent when Obama took office.
- U6 is comprised of U3 plus U4 plus U5 plus part time workers who want to work full time, but cannot due to economic reasons. This measure of unemployment is the most comprehensive measure of labor resource unemployment available. The U6 unemployment rate counts people without work seeking full-time employment (the U-3 rate), but also counts marginally attached workers and those working part-time. Marginally attached workers include those who have gotten discouraged and stopped looking for work, but still want to work. This rate group reached 15.6 percent in November, and was 14.0 percent when Obama took office.
The labor force is defined as the civilian (non-military) non-institutionalized population 16 years old and over. Those not looking for a job are counted as not in the labor force.
The MSM reports the U3 rate, but totally ignores the other five rates, particularly the U6 rate. And the MSM wonders why it continues to lose audience. Isn’t it amazing how the true picture can emerge with just a little research?