Saturday, December 06, 2008

How Deep The Recession?

You've probably heard the unemployment figures for November that came out yesterday - 533,000 newly unemployed. But it is only part of the picture...

Back in 1994, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics changed how it gauged unemployment, choosing to exclude "discouraged workers." That means people available and eager to work but who, after a year of looking, have given up because they cannot find a job. The Clinton administration just chopped these discouraged workers out of the most commonly reported statistic on unemployment.

The figure now used - the official rate (which today clocked in at 6.7%) - is called U3 in BLS jargon. As you can see from this table, it's labeled "Total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor force." But, as you can also see from the table, there are other, broader measures that rarely get reported in the megamedia, although The Wall Street Journal did include one of these in paragraph 16 of Market Watch today:

An alternative gauge of unemployment -- which includes discouraged workers and those whose hours have been cut back to part-time -- rose to 12.5% from 11.8%. The number of workers forced to work part-time rose by 621,000 to 7.3 million.

From Meteor Blades on Daily Kos.

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