The Real Number of Unemployed Nationally: 16.5 %

I'm glad we agree, this is not a job. Pic by Steve Schwartz

I'm glad we agree, this is not a job. Pic by Steve Schwartz

Often when my friends and I talk about issues of unemployment a question comes up. How do we know if this number that we read in the paper is including everyone?

What about your friend who hasn’t had a job in two years and has just stopped looking?
What about people who work temp jobs, so they sort of have a job, but not really?
What about people who got a job at the mall during the SUPER SUMMER SALE, but then got let go?

I found a table to answer those questions.

There is a table in the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. It’s table A12. It is the Alternative Measures of Labor Underutilization.  (H/T to Jonathan Tasini of Working Life, I was actually going to work this number out the old fashioned way with pencil and paper, but you saved me time.) 

16.5% is the number of unemployed nationally if you take into the account all of things that we all wonder about in regards to true unemployment:

This is the table that takes all of the people we have questions about into account and gives a more real picture of what it actually looks like out there in the job market.

If your dad was working part time at the mall, would you say your dad had a job. I’m going to say no. You would probably says, “My dad kind of a has a job.” But that’s not going to be the kind of job that is going to prevent you andyour family from living in a van down by the river. A job to me and to most Americans is a job where you can at least do the basics: pay rent, keep the electricity on and eat.

For California if you take the Alternative Measures of Labor Underutilization chart into account we’re not number six in regards to unemployment, we are number two. Michigan is number one.

Alternative Measures of Labor Underutilization Unemployment Rate second quarter 2008 through first quarter of 2009 averages

Michigan: 17.2
California: 15.6

The above is looking at section U6 of the A12 Table.
U-6, total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers.

For the people who do have jobs the situations doesn’t look that much better. In the United States only 25.2 percent of American workers has a job that pays at least $16 an hour and includes employer-paid health insurance and a pension plan. Source Center for Economic and Policy Research.

I obviously have no solutions. I am not an economist. I’m not an accountant. But I think everyone deserves to know what is going on and how to find out what is going on.

Browne Molyneux

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About Browne Molyneux

My name is Browne Molyneux. I'm a lady. I'm a radical feminist. I'm black. I'm an Angeleno. I'm an artist. I'm carFREE. I'm a freelance writer. I'm a blogger. I'm a philosopher. I'm a humanist. I'm a journalist. I formerly wrote a column on transportation, Tracks for LA City Beat. The above are all of the things I have to work on being, got questions email me. browne@shametrainla.com My topics of interests include but are not limited to politics, transportation, dark green issues, economics, race relations, feminism, culture, working class urban life, media, art, Los Angeles and literature.

11 thoughts on “The Real Number of Unemployed Nationally: 16.5 %

  1. There’s always a way to cook the numbers in favor of the elected politicians. There is a vast majority of people in the work force that is considered full-time, yet took huge paycuts 20% – 30% which is not accounted for in the BLS website. I always question the truth of financial news like unemployment, GDP, manufacturing, existing home sales, mortgage loan applications etc…

    Great post Browne

  2. That’s great info Hazey. Hopefully someone on the edge will be able to make good use of it. Lets be thankful that public libraries have internet service and are at least tolerant of people who have lost their homes.

    And you are welcome Urbanista. I hope people begin to regularly check the links I provided (and others) on their own.

    Browne

  3. Enough of the failed right wing trickle down theory of economics, aka dog eat dog until Masta drops the bone, If Obama continues to listen to Wall St lackeys like Geithner to the detriment of the people who need jobs, medical care, debt relief, and a say so in how our country is managed then he may find himself out of a job and kicking empty beer cans down the road !!!!

    When times get tough and jobs are scarce then the powers that be turn against the cheap labor pool (usually minorities, wherever in the world), and use the old “divide and conquer” scam to pit working people against themselves, usually using racism, xenophobia and nativism as tools to scapegoat a selected group and class. It’s an old old strategy that seems to work every time. MLK was tolerated as a spokesman for racial equality and civil rights but the minute he moved into the realm of representing all working people and had the temerity to represent and support the strike by the Memphis Sanitation Workers, and started speaking up for all workers rights he was attacked as a Commie agitator, provoking class warfare, and was quickly assassinated.

    The 1% who make up the wealthy monopoly capitalist class, and their lackeys, always scream foul when someone points out the gross inequities of economics used to prop up these supply siders and robber barons. They like to keep it quiet and on the down low between themselves, but revert to screaming about class warfare when put in the spotlight by someone, and always use the old divide and conquer trick that is based on racism and xenophobia.

  4. Where California is concerned…when will it be ok for local papers to call Arnold a failure? When Arnold ran in ’03, he promised CHANGE. He said he would change Sacramento, reach across political lines, and get results. Nothing. The state has been on a landslide since he became governor. His apologists and partisan support insist it’s not his fault, because California, as we all know, is controlled by a Democratic legislature. But that’s beside the point. Because, remember, he promised to CHANGE that. He promised to get Democrats to support his economic policies. Also, in cases where he didn’t, he was able to call a special election, where either he got what he wanted and his policies wound up failing anyway, or he got rejected at the polls, which means he failed at persuading people to get on board with him, which was, again, another one of his promises.

    Obama has been in office 6 months, and already he’s being taken to task for not holding up on his promises. Yet Arnold, who’s broken every single promise he’s made since becoming governor 6 YEARS ago, and has watched his state crumble, is flying under the radar. Most of the media in California is giving him the pulpit to say “whoa is me”, while putting the pitch fork to Obama.

    The point I’m making is that I’m seeing Obama’s name pop up way too much in discussions as to where blame should be put for our current economic crisis. All I ask of people salivating to drop this all on Obama’s doorstep, is to give him as much patience as you give to Arnie. And heck, I wont’ even ask you to give Obama the 6 YEARS that you’ve given Arnold to fail at just about everything and watch his state sink nearly into a depression. Just give Obama 4. If there’s no improvement by next election, or no policy in place that looks to improve the economy, blame Obama. If you can’t wait that long, then at least admit that Arnold is a failure and an empty suit, too. If I saw the LA Times do that, I would faint!

  5. Callete,

    Of course it’s not fair to blame this on Obama and I’m not. But it’s also not fair to not talk about it at all. It wasn’t fair under Bush and now that Obama is president I thought people would at least be open to discuss this issue. But now that Obama is President you can’t even discuss the issues of labor and unemployment without people going off on you about Obama and giving him time.

    When is it ok to talk about this? When will it be ok to deal with this problem? How can we talk about this? And that’s not a rhetorical question. Every time I bring this up there is always some reason people give me. In 2007 I was being paranoid. In 2008 I was being negative. In 2009 I’m not being patient.

    Should I wait until half of the people I know are living in Tipis outside of my apartment?

    This to me right now, these above numbers is not me slamming Obama this is me asking how did we let this happen and how are we going to fix it? I look at history as a predictor of what can happen tomorrow and if I look at history correctly the Democrats take the poor for granted, because they know they poor will always vote for them AND the people with more money are more valuable. They may be the good cop, but they are still cops.

    Now in regards to Arnold, he is a complete joke. Unfortunately in Los Angeles and the rest of California in general the press has pretty much been decimated. The blogosphere is segregated into the political sphere and the social sphere, so what does that mean? That means in general unless people are very interested in politics they will never, ever be informed of anything, because currently the front page story on the LA Times is: Info on the British Open and Harry Potter Opening to Gazillion dollars

    San Francisco Chronicle: Where allegedly the smart people live. The head stories again British Open, a lawyer who met the Zodiac Killer and the owner of a Baseball team dying.

    And the less political blogosphere is too chicken shit to talk about shit until after it’s hit the fan and splattered all of over it’s face.

    You know where they are writing about Arnold and calling him a complete f**king idiot. London.

    I was at the Union Station I picked up a Financial Times and Arnold was on the cover:

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6f8f649c-67f9-11de-848a-00144feabdc0.html

    I read between the lines and it wasn’t a flattering piece in my opinion.

    Yes it will be a great day when Arnold is on the cover of LA Magazine with the title Failure under him, because to me he has way more control of the fate of this city than Mayor Villaraigosa, but of course Arnold is friends with Hollywood and his wife is a high profile Democrat and certain writers who managed to keep their jobs only managed to do that, by being nice and being friends with certain people (certain rich people,) so that will never happen.

    Browne

  6. Browne, my rant was directed at the California newspapers. I agree with everything you say. And yes, people in England, along with pretty much the entire world abroad, can see clearly what’s happening in America. And of course, if you point that out, you’re labeled as unpatriotic because you’re not supposed to care what other countries think of us, even if they’re dead right.

  7. Conchita, if you are going to quote me from other posts you need to give me some props otherwise people may think your a troll that lives under a rock.
    Thanks though, as I love reading myself when I’m right.

  8. There’s no excuse for the slowness of the stimulus. The whole point is to inject money into the market quickly, to reduce unemployment. There’s not much point to stimulating the economy a year from now, after families have been hurt by the crisis. There’s much less point two years from now, when there might be a turn-around.

    It seems like the administration is under the influence of the neoliberals in this cabinet, who want to funnel the money through banks, big projects, and the like. I get a feeling of “deja vu”, like this is Hurricane Katrina all over again, where money was distributed top-down, and never got to the 9th Ward. Instead, it got passed from contractor/profiteer to contractor/profiteer, and the workers, many undocumented from other countries, were paid minimum wages (if they got paid all their money).

    I have a shovel-ready project for the stimulus. A bunch of curbs and sidewalks here need fixing. It’s not that hard to do, if you just teach some unemployed people how to fix them. Get a professional to supervise. Fool bureaucrats might argue that you need to get heavy equipment and professionals, but, you don’t – you just need to turn it into a training project for unemployed people, and do the work by hand. No jackhammers or cement mixers — use sledgehammers and a big plastic tub to mix the concrete. Cut the lumber with a saw. Don’t rush the job. Spend all day on it.

    Give everyone doing this work full health insurance and chiro, because the work can hurt your body.

    It’s not efficient, but hundreds of unemployed people can learn some skills that are relevant to everyday life. They’ll fix up the city, too.

  9. “There’s no excuse for the slowness of the stimulus. The whole point is to inject money into the market quickly, to reduce unemployment. There’s not much point to stimulating the economy a year from now, after families have been hurt by the crisis. There’s much less point two years from now, when there might be a turn-around.

    It seems like the administration is under the influence of the neoliberals in this cabinet, who want to funnel the money through banks, big projects, and the like. I get a feeling of “deja vu”, like this is Hurricane Katrina all over again, where money was distributed top-down, and never got to the 9th Ward. Instead, it got passed from contractor/profiteer to contractor/profiteer, and the workers, many….” Alienation

    Exactly. This exactly what I think. Now that the stock market is up there are people saying, we’re in recovery now and have the nerve the audacity to say they need to back off the stimulus packages and be responsible, really WE need to responsible. WE need to suck it up. Oh really because I don’t remember buying a whole lot of crap and having two penthouses on the Upper Westside. What’s all of this resposibility suck it up talk about?

    And from down here I don’t see how any of this tricked down to anyone who I know and I don’t see it happening. And yes I agree Obama is greatly under the influence of economists who play liberal but are in real life fiscially conservative socially conscious assholes and by fiscially conservative it means people who aren’t rich need to suck it up and starve too death. That’s why you have two kids, so if one dies look how grateful you’ll be.

    Browne

  10. The problem with the stimulus is that the money went to the rich. Obama expected them to use the money to create jobs, loan money to qualified applicants..didn’t happen. They socked it all away, as everyone knew they would do. He’s afraid to cut out checks to citizens in general because he doesn’t want to be labeled a socialist (even though they’re labeling him one, anyway). Even Bush gave out those stimulus checks. That’s the convenience of being a Republican. You can be a socialist without anyone accusing you of being a socialist. A Democrat has to ride the fence. The bottom line is, if you give people money, they will spend it. Doesn’t matter if it violates the ideology of capitalism. If people get money, they will buy stuff. That will create more jobs. That will boost the economy. It’s not a long term solution but it was good enough for Bush to try twice, and it showed good results both times. Now, if you get a president doing that and working on health care reform? Obama just has to stop giving a shit what right wing critics think of him. They’re going to label him a pinko no matter what he does.

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