Measures of Our Distress

In a time of such economic turmoil, such volatility and such violently contrasting views of what is happening and how to make things better, economists are presenting some new angles of perspective all the time.

After recent unemployment numbers went up yet the official unemployment rate went down, the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore, delved into how that could be on Fox News.  Moore explained that, like the livestock and crop numbers we’re all used to, the unemployment numbers are survey numbers and projections, not actual counts.  Responders are asked whether they are employed, are you looking for a job or are you not looking for a job.

What isn’t talked about is the number of people who have quit looking for a job, have dropped out of the labor force.  Moore said the Journal regards a more important number the Workforce Participation Rate, that is, the percentage of people of working age in the workforce.  That number right now stands at 64 percent vs. 66-67 percent a few years ago.  That may not sound like a big difference, Moore said, but it represents 3 million jobs.

Another worrying figure that came up in the discussion was the long-term nature of much of the unemployed.  Moore said in January 2009, 2.69 million people had been unemployed for more than six months.  By January 2012, that number had climbed to 5.5 million.  We are 5 million jobs short of where we were in 2007, he noted.

Later on Fox News, financial commentator Eric Bolling noted another very compelling figure that not only affects our economic situation but also has a huge bearing on our political reality.  We have reached the point where 49.5 percent of our citizens are getting some payments from the federal government.  And the grand total of all those “entitlement” payments comes to $2.5 trillion – which is more money than the government takes in.

Published in: on February 21, 2012 at 5:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

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