Real Unemployment Rate : Closing in on the Great Depression


Good times around the corner?
Real unemployment rate at 17.5 percent

This economic disaster was created by far too many years of Reagan-Bush-supply-side-trickle-down-union-busting-corporate-welfare-market-driven economic policy.

By Ted McLaughlin / The Rag Blog / November 7, 2009

Yes, I know the federal government says the unemployment rate is now 10.2% — up from 9.8% after the country suffered a net loss of another 190,000 jobs in October. And that is a very scary figure in itself. After all, it shows nearly 16 million Americans are out of work.

But those are the “adjusted” figures the federal government uses to keep the American people from knowing just how bad unemployment really is in this country. When you add in the number of people who have given up trying to find a job and the people who have accepted part-time work because they can’t find a full-time job, you get much closer to the REAL unemployment rate.

The sad fact is that the real unemployment rate is now at least 17.5%. That means more than one out of every six workers in this country cannot find a full-time job.

Folks, that’s rapidly approaching the unemployment figures from the Great Depression, when the rate of unemployment climbed over 20%. And the government admits that the rate will continue to climb over the next several months (and probably longer). It is within the realm of possibility that we’ll reach those Great Depression numbers.

What bothers me is that the government and private economic pundits are currently trying to convince Americans that better times are just around the corner. They tell us the recession is actually over (because one quarter of GDP showed some growth). Then they assure us that unemployment is just a lagging indicator and will turn around in a few months as the economy continues to grow.

I wish I could believe that, but I don’t. All of the jobs were not lost due to the poor economy. Some of those jobs were cut so the companies could show a short-term gain and drive up their stocks — making millions for executives and investors. Many other good-paying jobs have been shipped overseas where the companies can exploit low-wage workers. None of these jobs are coming back, regardless of how much the economy rebounds.


Around 70% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) figure depends on consumer buying in this country. With the job losses continuing to rise each month in this country, fewer people each month will have money to spend. Those who still are working will also close their pocketbooks even tighter because the tanking economy scares them.

Even when the economy does start producing jobs instead of losing them, what kind of jobs will they be? Will they be good-paying jobs with benefits, or minimum wage jobs with no benefits? There is no shame in flipping burgers, but you certainly can’t buy food, make house payments and pay for a car with that kind of job.

Political pundits are now saying that if the economy and jobs don’t turn around before the next election, it will be blamed on the Democrats because they are in power. That’s probably true, even though it may be unfair.

Lest we forget, this mess wasn’t created by the Democrats. This economic disaster was created by far too many years of Reagan-Bush-supply-side-trickle-down-union-busting-corporate-welfare-market-driven economic policy. The elder Bush was right when he called it “voodoo economics” (before he sold out and went along with it).

The truth is that the recession is not over. It won’t be over until the economy starts producing good jobs. But fasten your seat belts, because that’s a long way down a very bumpy road.

[Rag Blog contributor Ted McLaughlin also posts at jobsanger.]

The Rag Blog

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17 Responses to Real Unemployment Rate : Closing in on the Great Depression

  1. AArdvarker says:

    This really nails it. I have friends with jobs who are still underemployed and unable to make the co-pays for the drugs their sick partners need to treat chronic illness. The Unions are busted, outsourcing has taken its toll, layoffs ongoing and all for the stock price du jour. This short term corporate policy will continue to make the economy tank.

  2. Richard says:

    Two things: First, -supply-side-trickle-down-union-busting-corporate-welfare-market-driven economic policy. Is how Capitalism “works.” Agitating for more or better wage-slave jobs is a band-aid approch. Charging for health care and medicines is a crime against humanity. Houses and cars are nice, I like big ones of both, but to garner them as Capitalist private property is foolish and self destructive, besides people don’t own houses and cars, banks do, you just get the priviledge of paying, and paying and paying for them. Wise up! Let’s attack the problem at its roots.

    Seconldy: And I think Mr. Prez is onto this, WAR. It produces lots of jobs that will make the bosses richer and provide the opportunity to make products to kill other humans. It’s how FDR got us out of the Great Depression.

  3. Ted seems confused that anyone would actually want Obama to be accountable for what he says. I think to Obama, it’s all just rhetoric. But to us folks, we would like him to start meaning what he says.

    Give it to me. So said Obama about taking responsibility for the economy back in July 09.

    there comes a point in a presidency when inheritance becomes ownership. Obama made that pivot Tuesday in Michigan … ‘My job is to solve problems, not to stand on the sidelines and harp and gripe,’ he said Tuesday, his sleeves rolled up”

    This plan will save or create over 3 million jobs — almost all of them in the private sector. So said BHO back in Feb 2009 when pitching his stimuLESS bill to the public. The truth is that nearly 2.5 million jobs have been LOST since the stimulus bill passed.

    This plan will put people to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, our dangerous — dangerously deficient dams and levees.

    This plan will put people to work modernizing our health care system, not only saving us billions of dollars, but countless lives.

    This plan will put people to work renovating more than 10,000 schools, giving millions of children the chance to learn in 21st century classrooms, libraries and labs — and to all the scientists in the room today, you know what that means for America’s future.

    The stimuLESS plan that our Dear Leader created and put in place has been an utter failure in any realistic measure. One thing I do agree with Ted on is that we need jobs and fast. But with a wasted 3/4 trillion on a non stimulus plan, I don’t think there are any more bullets for congress left to fire.

    That problem is entirely the fault of BHO. Come November 2010, Obamas plans and prmises will be an albatross hanging around the neck of every Democrat running for office.

  4. dospesentas says:

    Hey haven’t you heard? THE SKY IS FALLING THANKS TO GEORGE W. BUSH AND THE GHOST OF RONALD REGAN.

    I’ll give the current regime a lot of credit for change – they change the blame to someone else! How long do we have to listen to the broken ‘inheritence’ record? What happened to ‘the buck stops here’. All these clowns do is spend money and blame others – hardly LEADERSHIP.

    Obama and his cronies have managed to squander borrowed money with the stimuLESS (good one DHS) by throwing it at their pals and favorite causes. Little has gone to any LONG term solutions. NOTE TO OBAMA: Welfare is NOT a job.

    The Obama regime and liberals in general need to learn one simple fact: The government doesn’t make our economy – it’s a parasite on it. AArdvarker at once complains about union busting and outsourcing – that’s an oxymoron wrapped in an enigma. I’ve seen bumper stickers that say ‘unions – the folks who brought you weekends’, they need to say; ‘unions – the folks who brought you outsourcing’. It’s simple: When the price is too high, you shop somewhere else. Look to GM (UAW), Levis (UNITE) and the steel industry (USW) for examples. Why do you think the SEIU and AFL-CIO are stable – it’s because they’re service oriented, their victims are captive.

    Does anyone (other than the current regime) really believe more union extortion, forcing higher wages on employers, forcing higher taxes on employers, forcing more benefits on employers, more regulation, cap and trade and taxing the incentives out of owning a successful business is going to IMPROVE our economy? WAKE UP!

  5. You people sound like you want to go back to the nineteenth century, when the only thing that mattered was making owners rich – regardless of what it did to workers.
    The only thing a worker has to sell is his labor. Why is that not as important as whatever product the owner is producing? Unions are necessary because it has been shown that owners will abuse workers anytime they can.
    Whatever happened to community responsibility for companies? Companies owe something to the communities they are in, and a large part of that is decent wages and working conditions.
    By the way, companies don’t outsource because of low wages but because they can abuse those workers without any recourse from the workers.
    It’s a shame that in this day and age people like yourself still believe it’s OK to abuse workers.

  6. Ted,No one was proposing that its ok for companies to abuse workers. I cant say for sure, so I will admit that its purely a guess. But I guess that you have never started and run your own company. Never had to pay for inventory or to produce products and services, never had to market them or sell them, never had to recruit and retain workers and managers, provide benefits, pay an extremely high corporate tax rate (far higher than in many European countries), pay for insurance, pay lawyers to defend or bring lawsuits, get patents and write contracts, pay for travel, give to charities and support your workers that have suffered a loss, try to be better than the myriad of competitors trying to win your customers, etc.

    If you had ever built and run a company you would know how absurd your comments are. If I am wrong please let me know.

    So here is my suggestion to you. Take all your money, risk all your possessions and go start a business. Work 18 hours a day for free while you pay your employees because you can’t pay yourself. Put everything you have into it for a couple years, then come back here and tell us how you feel about guys who claim that you are just an evil rich corpratist who wants to abuse your workers. Tell us how you feel about a government that says after years of risk and struggle and sacrifice that you dont really deserve your wealth and you are greedy if you dont want to “spread it around”

  7. The only thing a worker has to sell is his labor. Why is that not as important as whatever product the owner is producing?

    Because a worker only risks a days pay. As long as he/she is relatively certain they will get paid for their days labor, they risk nothing and they are compensated in full for their labor. An owner risks a tremendous amout. He risks his money, his labor and often money and labor from other people as well. He may not know for years if he will be compensated for his labor or recover his investment. Its simple risk and reward. if you risk little (employee) you get rewarded little. If you risk much (owner), you may, just may, get rewarded a lot. Of course your also pretty likely to loose all your labor and all your investment.

    Thats not complicated is it?

  8. It’s not the small businessman who is risking his all that is outsourcing and abusing foreign workers, as your description makes it seem. It is corporations making millions (or billions) and still want to squeeze more out through worker abuse.
    Besides, if an employer cannot pay a decent livable wage, they should not be able to stay in business by abusing workers.
    And you make not think a workers labor is much, but it is everything that worker has.If both are putting in everything they have, why must the employer be the only one that thrives?

  9. Rick says:

    Ever since the Nixon Administration, the federal government has been changing the way it calculates numbers so that the incumbent party doesn’t look as bad as it should. The Republicans are the worst but the Democrats are guilty, too. Don’t believe official (un)employment numbers, inflation or productivity figures, GDP/GNP etc…

    Our economy is in a terrible mess but those at the top continue to make out like bandits: if they can’t screw working Americans the way they do business, then they arrange to steal our tax dollars.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Humanity-you have to care for your fellow humans during your trip on this earth.It is important don’t you think?

  11. …It is corporations making millions (or billions) and still want to squeeze more out through worker abuse. Its a free market for labor. No one is entitled to a job, and no business is entitled to workers. Its basic economics. Workers supply labor and businesses purchase it.

    Workers are free to sell their labor to which ever company they can convince to purchase it. If they work for a company at which they are unhappy, they are entitled to find a new company to purchase their labor, or they can take a risk and become a business owner. If companies consistently abuse workers, then they will have a hard time finding new workers and that will make it harder for them to stay in business. Companies that treat their employees well have a better chance to succeed. The free market for labor works quite well. Unions are a blot on that. They create an imbalanced and artificial labor market that is not sustainable over time. Facts are facts, like them or not.

  12. Nonsense. The “free labor market” will result in worker abuse just like it always has. Unions and collective bargaining are the only tools workers have to make sure employers are fair.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Extremist to the DHS said “If you had ever built and run a company you would know how absurd your comments are. If I am wrong please let me know.”
    It’s a pleasure DHS. I wouldn’t create a capitalist company but a co-op. Don’ know in the US but in France, it exist thousands co-ops . All the workers are sharing the capital and the risks. And it works….
    I think you should stop reading the Wall Street Journal
    Didier

  14. Richard says:

    I wasn’t going tojump in Ted you seem to be doing well by yourself, but here goes. Economics 101. A pair of shoes. Material cost $1.00 Workshop cost $1.00 per pair, Tools $.50 cents. Total cost $2.50, sold for $175.00, who earned it the one who worked to make the shoes or the Boss? Capitalism is made up of two classes, those who work for a living and those who own for a living. These two classes have nothing in common.

  15. Richard must have failed Econ 101.

    Who has the most invsted? Owner, millions of dollars? Worker, not much. Who is carrying the risk if the business should fail. The owner @ 100%. The worker @ 0%. Who has to pay the corp taxes, payroll taxes, utilities, rent/mortgage, inventory, distribution, marketing, etc etc etc.

    The worker risks little, invests little, is not liable for any of the business costs and gets paid on time for his work at a rate that he agrees to work for. He can leave the company without notice. He is free to work for anyone who will pay him more anytime he wants to.

    If he is anything like Ted or Richard, he should thank the Lord that Walmart will always need door greeters as that seems to be the level of work these two are best suited for.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Why deoesn’t DHS get his own blog and stop taking up so much space on this blog?

  17. Richard says:

    I did fail Capitalist economics, or rather capitalist economics failed me and every other worker, including Walmart door greeters.
    The pair of shoes exists because a worker or rather the socialized labor of a group of workers who took raw material of little intrinsic value and with their skills CREATED a product of greater value. Wealth is created by workers making products or providing services. The capitalist wil say he has his money working for him, but lets face it money does no work.

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