Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Unemployed Shell Game

Republican's have proclaimed that the unemploment rate is lower than during Clinton's presidency. Yes, they are trying to tell us that we're doing better than the halcyon days of dotcom. It's too bad that the unemployment rate has nothing to do with the rate of joblessness.

In the strictest of terms, the rate reflects the number of unemployment claims for a given period. It is the acceleration of job loss. Further, it provides no useful metric as to the number of unemployed who remain jobless after their benefits are exhausted.

Michigan is a fine example of this. The state has fairly typical rate of unemployment claims while the jobless rate approaches 40% in some areas. By itself, the unemployment rate is meaningless unless it is accompanied by job creation.

I personally know five unemployed technology workers who have been without work for more than a year. These workers are not reflected in the unemployment rate. They comprise a growing group in this country of the long-term jobless.

With mediocre job growth, this problem will not be addressed in the immediate future.



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