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Real unemployment heading for 20%

8.5% unemployment is bad enough, but Mish points out that the number reported by the government doesn’t tell the whole story:

[I]f you start counting all the people that want a job but gave up, all the people with part-time jobs that want a full-time job, all the people who dropped off the unemployment rolls because their unemployment benefits ran out, etc., you get a closer picture of what the unemployment rate is. That number is in the last row labeled U-6.

And that number is 15.6%.

So where did the Bureau of Labor Statistics come up with 8.5%? You know the old saying about liars and figures:

U-6 (the BLS designation for the 15.6% figure–dg) is an artifact of the Clinton administration. It did not exist prior to 1994.

To make the unemployment statistics look better, Clinton decided to ignore certain classes of workers such as those who want work but did not look in the last 4 weeks. Thus, It makes no sense to compare the reported unemployment of today to historical numbers.

So for a more accurate look at the employment situation, you have to add “discouraged workers”, about five million of whom were “dismissed to the non-reporting netherworld” in 1994, to the U-6 number reported by the BLS. When you do, you get this chart, prepared by John Williams at

Chart of U.S. Unemployment

Bear in mind that unemployment in 1932, the peak of the Great Depression, was 24.9%. That somber landmark is in sight again.

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