Unemployment Is 11% If You Count Those Who Gave Up In Despair

The official unemployment rate is now 8.6% and the Democrats see that as a sign that their economic policies are getting people back to work. In reality, the only reason the unemployment rate has dropped is that so many people have simply stopped looking – they’ve given up in despair. Ezra Klein points to this Financial Times article that notes that the unemployment rate in the United States is now worse than many parts of Europe, and if you count those who have given up, the rate is more like 11%. That’s not even counting the underemployed.

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. Some have moved from claiming unemployment benefits to disability benefits, and have thus permanently dropped out of the labour force. Others have fallen back on the charity of relatives. Others still have ended up in prison.

The article goes on to note how fixing the employment situation in the US is much easier said than done. Oddly, there is a call for higher education and infrastructure spending. But education spending is much higher today than it was a few decades ago, and we’re already in hock for nearly a trillion dollars for President Obama’s stimulus bill, so that’s going to be a tough sell. Maybe if the government stopped implementing policies that make it difficult to do business in the US we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Update: Linked by Maggie – thanks!

Update 2: Daily Pundit linked – thanks!

Update 3: Scared Monkeys linked – thanks!