Unemployment and technology
None of them will tell you this: If you, a family member or anyone is unemployed and has subsequently given up on finding a job -- if you are so hopelessly out of work that you've stopped looking over the past four weeks -- the Department of Labor doesn't count you as unemployed. That's right. While you are as unemployed as one can possibly be, and tragically may never find work again, you are not counted in the figure we see relentlessly in the news -- currently 5.6%. Right now, as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work or severely underemployed. Trust me, the vast majority of them aren't throwing parties to toast "falling" unemployment.
There's another reason why the official rate is misleading. Say you're an out-of-work engineer or healthcare worker or construction worker or retail manager: If you perform a minimum of one hour of work in a week and are paid at least $20 -- maybe someone pays you to mow their lawn -- you're not officially counted as unemployed in the much-reported 5.6%. Few Americans know this.
Yet another figure of importance that doesn't get much press: those working part time but wanting full-time work. If you have a degree in chemistry or math and are working 10 hours part time because it is all you can find -- in other words, you are severely underemployed -- the government doesn't count you in the 5.6%. Few Americans know this.
Related to IP, it's interesting to note the reference to those in the areas of engineering, chemistry and math.
Working only 10 hours per week because that is all that is available? Not the best scenario for making inventions.
** Update on Feb 6, 2015
The Christian Scientist Monitor (CSM) noted
A post at the Washington Post criticizes the tone of Gallup CEO Clifton's remarks and includes the text:
That brings us to one last question. If the unemployment rate is so flawed how come we pay so much attention to it? Well, because it's the worst stat about labor market slack except for all the others. The problem is figuring out which people who don't have jobs are really jobless. Take discouraged workers. The unemployment understates how bad things are by ignoring them, but we wouldn't want to count everyone who's not working and not looking for a job as unemployed, would we? If we did, then we'd be saying that college students and stay-at-home parents and even retirees are just as unemployed as someone who's sending out resumés everyday. But even that's not clear cut since some people go to school because they can't find a job, and some people stay at home since child care would cost more than they'd make, and some people are forced into retirement. That's why we look, for example, at the so-calledprime-age participation rate—the percent of people between 25 and 54 years old who have or are looking for a job—to figure out far away we are from a real recovery. And by that measure, we still have a ways to go.
Of course, the group 25-54 might have the largest fraction of discouraged or underemployed workers.