Figures on the REAL economy
Thanks to ghost dog over at the Other Place, I was directed to this website, which explains exactly how the Clinton administration cooked the unemployment figures and how government statistics in general make the economy look better than it really is.
It's largely for subscribers, but has plenty of valuable free content.
The section on unemployment is especially instructive, confirming what I have suspected for a long time, based on the fact that I knew an awful lot of long-term unemployed people who were scraping by on temping, part-time jobs, and subsidies from relatives, even during the so-called "boom" of the Clinton years:
Where the household survey includes farm workers, the self-employed and workers in private homes, the payroll survey does not. The payroll survey counts jobs, making no adjustment for multiple jobholders. Yet, adjusting for all differences, the BLS never has been able to reconcile the two series within one million jobs...
...Suggesting that the household survey is more accurate than the payroll survey, however, does not mean household survey accurately depicts unemployment. While its measures have definable statistical accuracy, the accuracy is related only to the underlying questions surveyed and to the universe of people surveyed.
The popularly followed unemployment rate was 5.5% in July 2004, seasonally adjusted. That is known as U-3, one of six unemployment rates published by the BLS. The broadest U-6 measure was 9.5%, including discouraged and marginally attached workers.
Up until the Clinton administration, a discouraged worker was one who was willing, able and ready to work but had given up looking because there were no jobs to be had. The Clinton administration dismissed to the non-reporting netherworld about five million discouraged workers who had been so categorized for more than a year. As of July 2004, the less-than-a-year discouraged workers total 504,000. Adding in the netherworld takes the unemployment rate up to about 12.5%...
There's also some interesting stuff at the Bureau of Labor Statistics site:
It shows about 7.6 million unemployed, out of a non-institutionalized population of 230 million. However, in addition, it shows 78.7 million "not currently in the labor force," of which 4.6 million are "persons who currently want a job." So why aren't they counted in the labor force? Because the unemployment rate would immediately rise by 60%.
Who is counted as employed?
Not all of the wide range of job situations in the American economy fit neatly into a given category. For example, people are considered employed if they did any work at all for pay or profit during the survey week. This includes all part-time and temporary work, as well as regular full-time year-round employment. Persons also are counted as employed if they have a job at which they did not work during the survey week because they were:
* On vacation;
* Experiencing child-care problems;
* Taking care of some other family or personal obligation;
* On maternity or paternity leave;
* Involved in an industrial dispute; or
* Prevented from working by bad weather.
Who is counted as unemployed?
Persons are classified as unemployed if they do not have a job, have actively looked for work in the prior 4 weeks, and are currently available for work.
Who is not in the labor force?
All members of the civilian noninstitutional population are eligible for inclusion in the labor force, and those 16 and over who have a job or are actively looking for one are so classified. All others--those who have no job and are not looking for one--are counted as "not in the labor force." Many who do not participate in the labor force are going to school or are retired. Family responsibilities keep others out of the labor force. Still others have a physical or mental disability which prevents them from participating in labor force activities.