Monday, November 10, 2008

The Bureau Of Labor Statistics Mind Trick

Just a quick note for anyone who still trusts their government/media to tell them the truth.

When you hear of the "official" unemployment rate put out by the government, you are only getting half the truth (actually, it's 55%, but who is counting?). The government wants you to believe that our unemployment rate is only 6.5%, up from 4.8% when compared to last October.

The truth is the American unemployment rate is an eye-popping 11.8%, up from 8.4% last year.

Part of the problem is how the government calculates the unemployed. If 100,000 people were canned last month, but 120,000 people were designated "not looking for work," then the government tells us that the net amount of unemployed decreased 20,000.

...and we wonder why Fannie/Freddie went kablooie. I can't wait for them to administer health care and use that for political purposes.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (Ministry of Truth) puts out these stats on a monthly basis. Rather than listening to the dim bulbs in the mainstream media, or the various talk show hosts that are in the tank for their president, you need to download the BLS stats and refer to Table A-12. For the latest report, it is on page 18.

Line U-3 is the 'official' unemployment rate. Think of this as the dress size your wife imagines herself to be if she dropped 25 pounds.

Line U-6 is the actual unemployment rate. Think of this as the dress size she wears if it is constructed without Kevlar reinforcements.

The truth is out there. The government just assume we are too dumb and lazy to look for ourselves.

Uhhh....wait a minute...are we not the nation that thought that "real estate always goes up?" Didn't we think we could borrow our way to prosperity? Don't we all own the same 600 stocks and plan on selling them at a profit in a relatively short time frame?

Never mind. I now return you to your regularly scheduled debt-laden, socialist implosion, already in progress.


Wisdom-Seeker said...

U6 is right.

But the occasional periodic look at the total size of the workforce as a fraction of the population is also telling. This data goes back to 1983 (wish they ran it back longer)... wish I had more time to FREDgraph the longer-term series...

Labor force as fraction of population is down to about 66% after peaking at a bit over 67% in 1999-2000.

Employment as fraction of population is down to under 62% after peaking at about 65% in 1999-2000.

-- Wisdom Seeker (having vanished from TickerForum, now seen mainly at CalculatedRisk, and just starting a new forum of his own at !)

bi renter said...


...starting to see more layoff anouncemnts. How will this impact BI? Seems kitsap is insulated from significant unemployment (government jobs), which begs the question - is BI anchored to Kitsap or Seattle? Also, when are house prices going to fall? I'm amazed at the prices I see - is this simply realtors scrambling to secure listings? My goodness, shacks for 695k...I thought the housing bubble was over. BI must be special...or well insulated.

Anonymous said...

Interesting thoughts, although I'm not sure that foolish economic decisions (35 to 1 leverage, etc.)equate to a "socialist implosion." Rather, our current economic situation is largely the result of an overly free economic system. Maybe someone should have been at the helm of our financial ship instead of letting the "free market" assure the wealth of those innovative Wall Street types to the detriment of the rest of the country.

Eleua said...

Much of the "foolish economic decisions" by the government were an attempt to keep all the bubbles (what I call, "Operation Enduring Bubble") going to fuel the government spending that an otherwise healthy financial system and economy could not support with any real sustainability.

I absolutely reject the notion that our current troubles descend from an "overly free" economic system. I contend that it was unchecked fraud that made this possible.

Tacit approval of fraud has NEVER been part of a "free" economy, as one of the basic purposes of government is to prosecute and eradicate fraud in the marketplace.

Why did this happen? The people of America demanded it. We demanded the fraud because it made the Internut bubble possible. It made the stock market rally. It made our Bainbridge-Island-Dream-Homes increase in value well beyond the income support of our community.

Had someone stood up in 2005 and said that fraud, deceit, historical ignorace, and economic cluelessness needed to be stamped out in the housing market, that person (**cough cough**) would have been driven from the conversation. Any politician advocating such would have been thrown from office.

Same with stocks in 1999...

Same with government growth in 2009...

When it comes to levitating asset prices, Americans are just like Al Davis - "Just win, baby!"

Eleua said...

BTW, just so we are clear...

I do think that banking deregulation, as we experienced in the mid-90s, is a disaster, and prudent government has a definite role in regulating the financial system.

Mix deregulation with an expectation of not being prosecuted for fraud and a host of SEC violations, and you get what we got over the past decade.

That being said, the American people were just fine with it as long as their stock portfolios were increasing well above real, non-finacial GDP growth, and their Bainbridge-Island-Dream-Home kept increasing by 15% year over year.


I do not believe the recent job stats.