Thursday, January 29, 2009

The True State of Employment

Jobless rate

The other day I heard George Will pontificate that the unemployment rate of 8% is better than the 10% unemployment this nation faced during the recession of the early 80's. Yes it's true that today the United States is approaching an official uneployment rate of 8%, but we are not using the same methodology to determine the unemployment rate that was used in 1980. The methedology has been changed by both Reagan and Clinton. If the methodology used in 1980, before the Reagan Administration first changed it to hide the depth of that era's deep recession, were applied, it would be 17% today, or one in seven workers

Even still the number of jobless American workers receiving unemployment checks rose to the highest level since the government began keeping records in 1967. The Labor Department is reporting that the number of Americans drawing jobless benefits for a week or longer rose to 4,776,000 in the week ended Jan. 17, the latest data available.

This number eclipses the prior mark set in November 1982, when 4,713,000 million Americans drew benefits.

Americans who moved to collect their first unemployment checks rose for the third consecutive week, to 588,000, according to a government report released Thursday. The number of Americans filing for unemployment claims has surged by 61% from this time a year ago. The AP notes that the results “were worse than analysts expected.”

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