Unemployment Numbers

Ltunemployed-480x218I've finally eaten my way through a long list of chores, and I can finally catch up on the world. One of my chores this morning was to call the unemployment center to get my $400 weekly check. Everything helps.

Lots of people are buzzing about this chart from the Wall Street Journal, which looks at the historical percentage of the unemployed who've been without a job for 27 weeks or more. Hey, I'm one of those blips. 

Long term unemployment is bad news for a lot of reasons. Ezra Klein explains,

Unemployment isn't just a problem because it means someone loses his
job. It's a problem because it means that person's next job is likely
to be worse than his last one. People lose their skills, their
contacts, their self-confidence. Their résumé begins to look worse and,
if they're older, age discrimination kicks in.

The actual numbers of people who are unemployed or are marginally employed have to be even worse. Those numbers don't include my buddy who is trying to find a job after taking off years to raise her kids or the buddy who is piecing together freelance jobs, because she can't find a teaching job after getting a Masters in Education or all those people who have been unemployed for so long that the system isn't keeping track of them anymore. They also don't include all the kids who graduated last year (or the up-coming graduates) who never found jobs.

If you really want to get depressed, talk to a college student about trying to find a summer job. I hear that some stores are actually paying less than the minimum wage right now. Check out Jobvent.

3 thoughts on “Unemployment Numbers

  1. I feel so, so lucky to have found employment. I had a sister-in-law out of work for nearly a year, a future sister-in-law just out of an education program who hasn’t landed a job yet. My stepfather is working for Walgreens after many months of being unemployed. My neighbor down the street works for a bank, and while he still has a job, they’ve ramped up everyone’s hours instead of hiring new people. It’s cheaper to pay them overtime than to pay new salaries and benefits. When I go to pick up his son for carpool at 7:15, he’s already gone. I think he gets home after 6:00.


  2. “Those numbers don’t include my buddy who is trying to find a job after taking off years to raise her kids”
    That’s not true. Re-entrants (or new entrants) to the work force who are actively seeking work are counted in the number of unemployed. Also, “the system” does not cease keeping track of people who are unemployed for a long time. The federal statistics are based on household surveys, and as long as a person is actively seeking work, he or she is counted as unemployed (even if the person has exhausted unemployment benefits). If the person ceases seeking work, but says he or she would like a job, the person is categorized as a discouraged worker, which is a separate category.
    Sometimes, discouraged workers, those seeking full-time work but only finding part-time work, and the unemployed are summed together to measure what we might call the aggregate labor market shortfall. That is an interesting number, but you have to compare apples to apples, so sticking with a consistently calculated unemployment number is probably the best procedure.


  3. I suppose it also doesn’t include those who show up in places like Korea to teach English – there are a lot more older people rather than kids fresh out of unversity than there used to be and a ton more people who tell me they came to pay off bills or make ends meet rather than for the adventure.


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