Here are some data on Americans and our quests for work.

Financial Times‘ Ed Luce offers some statistics (the article may be behind a paywall):

In December 2007, the US economy employed 146 million people. Four years later, it languishes at 140 million.  At the current rate of job creation it will take another two and a half years to regain 2007 levels—taking the replacement cycle to as much as 78 months….  Even that understates the problem, since in that time the population will have risen by more than 10 million.


At the start of the recession, the employment-to-population rate was 62.7 per cent. The rate is now 58.5 per cent….  According to government statistics, if the same number of people were seeking work today as in 2007, the jobless rate would be 11 per cent.

Notice that last.  Here are some back of the envelopment calculations: in 2007, according to the US Census, the working-age population of the US (which I’ve unilaterally defined as men and women between 20 and 64 years old) was a bit shy of 181 million Americans.  Thus, that 4% drop in the employment-to-population rate represents a loss of some 7.25 million Americans from the labor force—7.25 million who have, with the terrible economy we’ve had for the last four years, given up looking for work.  If they still were looking, that’s what would run the “unemployment rate” up to 11 %.

In the last three years, the “official” unemployment rate has run from 7% to as high as 10%, stabilized at around 9% for most of these three years, and last month fell to 8.6%, a number that disguises the foregoing.  In all, some 2 million more Americans—that are still looking—are out of work today than at the start of 2009.

There’s one more interesting statistic.  This one does a better job of measuring the quality of the jobs available: the unemployed and underemployed combined rate is pushing 20 per cent.  This isn’t a number that says an American isn’t getting paid what he wants, or thinks he deserves—none of us are that—this is a number that says Americans don’t have as much work per day as we want—it includes all less than full time workers who want to be full time.

And there’s this from the Democratic National Committee Chairwoman and Congresswoman (D, FL), Debbie Wasserman Schulz in an exchange with Gretchen Carlson:

Carlson: Unemployment has gone up precipitously since [Obama] took office.

Wasserman Schulz: That is simply not true.

Among Luce, Carlson, and Wasserman Schulz, someone has lost track of the situation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *