I Like Pictures Better Than Raw Numbers

Yesterday Ed Morrissey at Hot Air posted a story about the latest unemployment numbers (an unemployment rate of 8.1 percent). The story included the chart below.

I’m not an economist–I have enough trouble just keeping track of the family budget, but there are a few things I have figured out over the years. One of them is that you can make numbers say anything you want to say if you approach them correctly. What is happening with our unemployment numbers is not unique to the Obama Administration–it is a game that has been played by Washington politicians of all political stripes for a long time. In very simple terms, if there were no jobs in America–no one was working–but no one was looking for work, Washington would report the unemployment number as zero. Yes, you read that right. If you want to lower the unemployment number, all you have to do is not count the people who are not looking for work and the unemployment number automatically gets lower. It’s magic–no–it’s Washington sleight of hand. If you look at the chart above, you can see what has happened to the American labor force in the past ten years or so.

Last month The Hill reported that Representative Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) has introduced a one-page bill entitled the REAL Unemployment Calculation Act (H.R. 4128), which would require “the federal government [to] cite, as its official unemployment calculation, the figure that takes into account those who are no longer looking for work,” not only those individuals actively seeking jobs. According to Thomas.gov, the Library of Congress website, the latest action on that bill was 3/29/2012 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions.

I don’t know if there will ever be a convenient time to report honestly what the unemployment figures are. If you surf the Internet, you will find claims that the current real unemployment number is about 11 percent. It would be nice if accurate numbers were reported to Americans regardless of which political party is in charge.

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