One CEO has called our unemployment rate “a big lie.” Find out what he means — and whether it matters.
You’ve heard it everywhere in recent weeks: the unemployment rate is down to 5.6 percent. Yippee!
But for many Americans, there is little reason to celebrate. Jim Clifton, CEO of the polling company Gallup, says that’s because America’s unemployment rate is a .
The sneaky way we calculate unemployment
To give you an idea what he means, let’s look at some examples based on his article.
Out of the following people, who would you consider ?
- A waitress who is out of work, but got paid $20 last week to babysit a friend’s kids
- A chemist whose only job is working 10 hours per week at a clothing store
- A person who’s been looking for work for so long that they’ve quit trying
You’d probably say that all of these people are unemployed. But the US government? It doesn’t count any of them in the official unemployment rate.
And Clifton, frustrated by the misleading numbers, wants to expose the truth:
“There’s no other way to say this. The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.”
Though the unemployment rate is clearly misleading, some would argue that, ultimately, it doesn’t matter.
One such person is Chris Matthews, a writer for Fortune. :
“It’s an insult to the public’s intelligence to suggest that it could be tricked into thinking the economy is good just because the Labor Department says so… the American people don’t need government statistics to tell them whether they are employed or if their economic fortunes are rising or falling.”
What do you think? Do you base your opinions and decisions on government statistics, or do you generally not buy into them?
However you feel, and whatever the numbers say, it’s clear that many people are still struggling to that supports — yet alone fulfills — them. Which is something we hope changes soon.
Are you surprised by this information about the American unemployment rate? Do you think it matters?
Susan Shain (@Susan_Shain) is a travel blogger who loves helping people discover adventure through international travel or alternative careers.