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Unemployment Figures Mask Reality

Posted by Steve Markowitz on August 2, 2013

Unemployment Figures Mask Reality

This morning’s unemployment headlines looked good on their face.  The New York Times breaking news alert stated “U.S. Added 162,000 Jobs in July; Unemployment Falls to 7.4%”.  However, digging into the article indicates a different narrative.

The US Labor Department indicated that job growth was in “retail, food services, financial activities and wholesale trade”.  Retail and food services jobs are typically lower paid positions.  Further, the better paying manufacturing sector gained only 6,000 jobs.  In addition the Times reported that  the average hourly wage and workweek declined during July.

However, the most significant problem with the unemployment figure is that it does not match reality.  For example, the government in its infinite wisdom stops counting the long-term unemployed as unemployed.  You can’t make this stuff up.

A more appropriate piece of employment data to look at is the number of employed Americans.  As the chart below indicate, that number continues to decrease even though the recession was supposedly over three years ago.  In addition, as indicated in the charts below, the number of those unemployed for more than 27 weeks, as well as the number of part-time workers, is that historically high rates.  As they say, figures lie and liars figure.

Percentage or Workers EMployed

Part Time




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