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.