Saturday, April 22, 2006

What's To Worry?

The way the US government measures unemployment is ludicrous. Instead of counting the number of people actually out of work, it counts the number of people filing for unemployment benefits. Which would be accurate, if benefits lasted until one found a position. So once your benefits run out, you are not counted as unemployed by the governmnet, regardles of whether or not you were successful in gaining employment. So when the government lists unemployment at 4.7%, is it really an accurate representation of unemployed?
I mention this because of this article which states that after the war, the major concern of Americans is the economy. If the economy is doing so well, why are Americans so concerned?
Well, the reality is, that the economy is only doing well for the top 20% of Americans. The average executive compensation to worker compensation ratio has gone from 107 to 1 in 1990, to 431 to 1 in 2003. The top 10% of Americans hold 37% of the income. And they just got a tax cut that Bush wants to make permanent to boot.
The average American worker however, is seeing none of this "booming" economy. Their healthcare costs are going up, as well as the price of gas, which will eventually drive up the price of everything else. But as long as the haves and have mores aren't hurting, don't expect the Republicans to do anything about it. As GOP pollster Whit Ayres puts it,
"We see low unemployment, but the headlines are dominated by the thousands being laid off by General Motors and Ford." So apparently, they don't see the lay-offs as being unemployed. Why not just say "Let them eat cake!" you blind and heartless bastard.
What it all comes back to is how the numbers are crunched by the government. Sure, GDP is up, but only in large enough numbers for the 10% so it averages out to appear that it's up for everyone. Sure, unemployment is down, when you discard the people who have exhausted their benefits. And sure, wages are up, when you take into account the average CEO compensation of $11 million.


Granny said...

My county's unemployment % is double the rest of the state.

Here's what they consider good news:

From the Sun-Star today:

Nannette Potter, a market consultant for the state's Employment Development Department, said 1,900 jobs were added to Merced's economy since March 2005.

Of those, 1,000 were government jobs -- many new positions at the University of California, Merced.

Of the gains in March, 200 were government jobs, 100 in restaurants and 100 in construction.

However, those gains were offset by a loss of 100 farm jobs and 100 information jobs, according to the state.


The restaurants are mostly fast food emporiums (minimum wage) and the construction jobs seem to be mostly in building new homes while the "bubble" seems on the verge of bursting.

Many of the UC Merced hires were from outside the area.

I hate statistics.

michael the tubthumper said...

same here. and anyone who works part-time (maybe only 8 hours a week) does't mke it onto the list.

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Peacechick Mary said...

It continues to amaze me how the Bushcos spout false information and think we are that dumb to fall for it. Agreed, the economy is tight and very difficult for many, especially those trying to survive on minimum wage. Won't be long before pigeon becomes a family staple for many.

Kathy said...

Good post, Lew. Lou Dobbs had a great idea - the middle-class should take to the streets like the illegal immigrants did. We need to do something to get the attention of Washington.

Peacechick Mary, yum, pigeon under glass?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately replacing skilled labor positions with non-skill, no benefit part-time employment currently makes too much economic sense for corporations and investors--since they emphasize short term gains over long-term strategy.

Unfortunately this is losing proposition long term as skyrocketing health-care and energy costs force cuts in consumption as more and more families fall into subsustence living.

Harder and harder times are coming, and at this point there is little either party can do about it. We've been on this road for 20 years.

Kathleen Callon said...

Good points. Smoke and mirrors...

Rex Kramer, Danger Seeker said...

Obviously, our great nation's unemployment rate would be zilch-a-mundo if we could just stop Mexican illegals from stealing our jobs!

Neil Shakespeare said...

Yeah, that is a screwy way of coming up with unemployment figures. And I don't believe there's any statistics for underemployment.

dusty said...

I like this statistic:

The top ten percent of earners have captured almost half the total income gains and the top one percent has gained the most of all – more in fact, than all the bottom 50 percent.

Which to me means that the people that DO NOT need a tax break are getting it and the working poor and the slowing dissolving middle class are paying for all the governments programs including the war in Iraq.