Something is very, very wrong with the financial and market systems at play in the American economy. Forget about whether Wall Street is up or down because who knows what those numbers really mean and who knows whether they’re even true anyway. The one true indicator of the health of any economy, and one that we can all get our arms around is employment. The more people that are working, the healthier the economy is.
The Published Employment Numbers are a Lie!
Although the employment numbers that are published by the US Department of Labor have remained at their highest level in decades, the number they publish (roughly 10%) dramatically understates the problem. (See the official Department of Labor numbers here.) According to the official numbers…
In December, both the number of unemployed persons, at 15.3 million, and the unemployment rate, at 10.0 percent, were unchanged. At the start of the re- cession in December 2007, the number of unemployed persons was 7.7 million, and the unemployment rate was 5.0 percent.
Now just ask yourself…based on your family and friends, does it feel like unemployment is only double what it was in 2007? No. Not only no, but HELL NO. But these are the official figgers published by the US Government. The problem is these numbers do not begin to capture the millions of “on the books” self employed people whose business has declined dramatically or the “off the book” entrepreneurs whose business has declined or disappeared completely. (I haven’t seen a lemonade stand in my neighborhood in months now.) The reality is there are way, way more millions of Americans that are out of work or are so way down on work to such a level that they are not active participants in the real economy.
The Real Unemployment Numbers–26%!
A far more realistic description of unemployment would include both traditionally unemployed workers and all other underutilized workers. The chart below shows the “total” rate of unemployment using both the smaller and more restrictive ” unemployed” group used in the traditional unemployment rate calculation and the larger “underemployed” number. Now even this number does not capture the full unemployment situation, but it is a far more realistic picture of employment in the US. Until these numbers are recognized and addressed, we’ve still got a long way to go before we see real health in the broader US economy.