Monday, December 29, 2003

How High Is Unemployment?

"A front-page LAT piece reminds that the real unemployment rate is higher than the official one, which is 5.9 percent. About five million workers are part-time but want to be full- time, the highest number in a decade. Another 1.5 million aren't looking for work because they're "discouraged." The LAT adds them up and gets an unemployment rate of 9.7 percent, up from 9.4 percent a year ago. And that doesn't take into account the growing number of people who are going on disability as a kind of alternative to welfare.

TP isn't sure why people who are underemployed should be counted the same as the unemployed. But the general point still holds. As one professor told the LAT, "There's certainly an arbitrariness to the official rate. It irks me that it's not put in proper perspective." Newspapers usually don't do so. "



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