Free Markets, Free People

Unemployment: The real numbers and the real problem

Not only the real numbers, but the real reason:

Labor-force participation, the share of Americans who are working or looking for jobs, has fallen to its lowest percentage since the mid-1980s. That’s partly because people have grown discouraged about their ability to find jobs and have given up looking. With those workers on the sidelines, the unemployment rate has been lower than it otherwise would be.

The official unemployment rate hit 9.1% in May. Including all of those who had part-time jobs but wanted to work full-time as well as those who want to work but had given up searching, the rate was 15.8%.

Of course Dale has been saying that for some time with his own calculations.   Discouraged workers, however, may also have taken another option – retirement – since it is the age of Baby Boomer retirement.   So it’s not clear yet how many of those who were workers and lost their jobs are “discouraged” workers or retired workers.  Bottom line, though – a lot of people have seen their lives drastically changed.

Here’s the inherent problem in long-term unemployment:

[T]he odds of finding a job steadily decreased the longer someone was out of work. Some 30% of Americans who had been out of work for less than five weeks found new jobs last year.

Those odds deteriorated for the long-term unemployed. Of those who had been unemployed for more than six months, slightly more than 10% found new jobs. Nearly 19% dropped out of the workforce.

The problem endures this year: As of May, 6.2 million had been out of work for more than six months and more than 4 million haven’t work in more than a year.

And the outlook, at least at the moment, doesn’t look like it will change anytime soon.

This is Obama’s political Achilles heel.  This is what gets incumbent presidents an early retirement.  I’m not hoping that this persists through the 2012 election, I’m suggesting that there is nothing to indicate it won’t.  

That is Obama’s challenge.  And it is also the GOP’s attack line.  This is Obama’s record – something he has to run on for the very first time.  Time to begin pointing it out now.


Twitter: @McQandO


18 Responses to Unemployment: The real numbers and the real problem

  • “The problem endures this year: As of May, 6.2 million had been out of work for more than six months and more than 4 million haven’t work in more than a year.”
    So stand by for the Hopey Change FREE STUFF GIVEAWAY!!!! Appearing next year in a country near you.
    Tax the rich, and the corporations, and let’s have more government and get all those unemployed Americans and illegal immigrants the vote buying bribes jobs or benefits they need until green power restores our economy!  Viva El Presidente!  Viva la Republica Bananera!

  • Flippant comment:  some of the stories I’ve read said it was ‘unexpected’.  Are these people sitting in the NY harbor waiting for the Titanic to arrive?

  • This may not have been initiated with Obama as POTUS, but he was elected knowing that tough times were ahead, and he has embraced the challenge.

    “We are going through a difficult time. I welcome the challenge,” said Obama, who received a standing ovation from the studio audience of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”

    You go to war with the army you have .. the same is true of the economy.

    • The upside is you get to take credit (whether or not its due) when the economy is good. This comes with the job and the “I inherited it” line no longer works. It is Obama’s economy, and that’s what the GOP has to stress.

    • He asked for the job. Has there ever been a President elected who wasn’t subjected to some unexpected challenge? It goes with the territory. I think the problem is that the man has so little experience. He rode into town with a satchel full of “school solutions” that turned out to be nothing more than unproven theories. Now he’s stuck because every play in the book has failed.
      Do you know what the difference is between Jimmy Carter and Barrack Obama? Barrack Obama is 4 inches taller.

  • One of the other problems for the Dems is that this is utterly unspinnable; if you are one of the long-term unemployed or discouraged, the media can spin whatever happy story they want about the wonders of the economy and all it will do is drop your trust in the media. There’s no way to spin people into thinking they have jobs, no way to spike the story. Given the millions we’re talking about, and the millions more who know these people, that’s an awfully large chunk of voters….

    • Just look to NY-26 for how to spin … Medi-S-care.
      Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain … look .. Paul Ryan and the Republicans are destroying Medicare, probably Social Security will be next … yada, yada, yada.
      Oh, that $500 billion that the ObamaCare took from Medicare is of no matter, even though it does more damage than what Raul Ryan and the Republicans have proposed.

      • One data point does not a trend make.
        There’s a lot more campaigning to be done over the next year. And lots more economic news will come out. Maybe at some point Republicans will eve have a nominee. Way to early to write Obama=winning!
        Color me, mildly optimistic.

  • Obama will not run on his record, he will run on attacking the Republicans.  He inherited this mess and the Republican obstructionists in congress have made it worse.

  • “It’s Bush’s fault!  And.. and… and… if the Republicans hadn’t been the Party of No (TM) and hadn’t completely blocked Obama’s agenda, we wouldn’t be in this fix!  Roadside ditch… and… and… slurpies… RACISM… shovel-ready green jobs!  Don’t listen to the rightwing attack machine!  And… and… and… Palin is stupid!  Yeah, yeah, and Romney is a MORMON!  Racist!  A billion jobs saved or created!  And… and… and… Chevrolet is doing great!”

    I think that about covers it.

    • I was going to post something almost identical.  I don’t know if that means great minds think alike, that we’ve been thoroughly trained in standard Democratic strategy and tactics, or that we can open a consulting consortium for Democratic Candidate re-election committees.
      Only you left a couple of important points out – Seniors being shoved off cliffs while eating dog food, the destruction of the globe by Republican controlling/controlled e-vile corporations, the death of the American Auto Industry at the hands of (don’t make sense do it?) Republican, Social Security decimated and helpless hardworking immigrant families deported and destroyed.

      • I stand corrected.  Boy, there isn’t a single group of people that the dems won’t single out to terrify, is there?

  • Yet the GOP is its own worst enemy.  Newt Gingrich’s staff just upped and quit.  Not that I thought he was a viable candidate to begin with.  The GOP will never get this message out if it can’t get its act together.  Right now, the GOP appears to be wildly in disarray.

    • He made himself part of that – he shouldn’t have, his day has passed, he needs to acknowledge it, or become a bitter old pill like Jimmy Carter.
      and again, as one conservative pointed out, we’re letting the opposition help tell us what we should think of as a viable candidate, and we need to ignore them.
      Newt wasn’t, though Obama would love it if he would stay in, and hopefully he’ll get off the stage now.

  • But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that:

    This was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal;

    This was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.

    This was the moment — this was the time — when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals.