Monday, March 12, 2012

8.3%, 8.7%, 9.9%, 12.4%, 21.3% ?????

Every Thursday the Labor Department releases the weekly number of new applications for unemployment compensation. The talking heads get really excited when it's under 400,000. Assuming the government knows how many checks they write, that means nearly a half million people have lost their job every week for the past three years. That's exciting?

But, the real surprise came when I heard how Labor Department officials validate the precise unemployment percentage that is published once every month. For example, in February the number was 8.3%. Are you ready for this? They randomly call people on the phone and ask if they have a job. Our official unemployment number is the result of a phone poll. Exciting?

Here's another reason why 8.3% or any other number they post is suspect. The Labor Department doesn't consider anyone as being unemployed when their unemployment compensation has run out and they've stopped looking for work. I'm going to publish a spoof on Wednesday about how Bud Abbott and Lou Costello* would discuss our unemployment situation.

* For you youngsters, Abbott and Costello are famous for the "Who's on first?" comedy routine.

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