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Ear to the Ground

What Drop in Unemployment?

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Posted on Mar 14, 2013
Carl Loven (CC BY 2.0)

Despite the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ report that U.S. unemployment fell to 7.7 percent in February, the real jobless rate stands at 23 percent. That’s because the government’s official measure, known as the “U3,” doesn’t count Americans who are so discouraged by bad prospects that they’ve given up the search for work.

John Williams, the economist and statistician behind Shadow Government Statistics, a site that seeks to show how government reports on the economy are manipulated to hide bad news, reveals that in addition to being three times what the official figure shows, real unemployment is rising, not falling.

As for which industries the BLS claims added jobs, Paul Craig Roberts writes in CounterPunch:

Where are these alleged jobs? The BLS says 48,000 were created in construction. That is possible, considering that revenue-starved real estate developers are misreading the housing situation.

Then there are 23,700 new jobs in retail trade, which is hard to believe considering the absence of consumer income growth and the empty parking lots at shopping malls.

The real puzzle is 20,800 jobs in motion picture and sound recording industries. This is the first time in the years that I have  been following the jobs reports that there has been enough employment for me to even notice this category.

The BLS lists 10,900 jobs in accounting and bookkeeping, which, as it is approaching income tax time, is probably correct; 21,000 jobs in temporary help and business support services; 39,000 jobs in health care and social assistance;  and 18,800 jobs in the old standby—waitresses and bartenders.

That leaves about 50,000 jobs sprinkled around the various categories, but not in numbers large enough to notice.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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