Ted McLaughlin : Is Unemployment Actually Climbing?

Political cartoon from Gallery View.

Poll puts lie to government figures:
Gallup shows unemployment is on the rise

By Ted McLaughlin / The Rag Blog / March 7, 2011

The official government unemployment figures have not been released yet for the month of February, but if they’re anything like the January figures then they probably can’t be trusted anyway. In January the government figures showed that the unemployment rate had fallen to 9.0%, even though there were barely enough jobs created to keep up with the number of new people entering the workforce (if that many).

How can it be that the figures dropped then? The government doesn’t bother to count ALL of the unemployed — only the ones getting unemployment benefits or using unemployment centers to try and find work. Those who have decided the unemployment center can’t help them or have given up altogether on finding a job aren’t counted.

The Labor Department, that compiles the unemployment statistics, even admitted that the 9.0% figure just showed that a whole lot more people had given up in January rather than showing a real reduction in the number of people out of work.

So how are we to know what the real unemployment is in America? Is it improving or getting worse? One resource that is probably more accurate than government figures is the Gallup Poll.

Gallup does a survey of the population by contacting about 18,000 people each month (which gives their survey a margin of error of only 1% — very accurate). And Gallup paints a very different picture of unemployment in America than the flawed government statistics do.

Gallup shows unemployment has been steadily climbing since the end of December. They showed a 9.6% unemployment rate at the end of December and a 9.8% rate at the end of January. The end of February marked a return to double-digit unemployment with a rate of 10.3%. That is virtually the same rate as this time last year (10.4%), which means that the economy is just spinning its wheels and going nowhere regarding job creation.

Underemployment: where things get scary. Graphic from Gallup.

And when you add in the number of people who are working part-time because they can’t find full-time work (about 9.6%), which Gallup calls the underemployment rate, the numbers get pretty scary. That figure now rests at 19.9%. Last year at this time it was 19.7%.

And considering the fact that most of the few new jobs being created pay less, in both wages and benefits, than the jobs lost due to the recession and outsourcing (which continues unabated) it becomes obvious that the job market is not only not improving — it is getting worse.

And with the return to power of Republicans (at least enough power to block any job stimulus programs) the job market is not going to improve anytime soon.

The Republicans want to return to their policy of “trickle down” economics — which is to slash government spending while continually lowering taxes on corporations and the richest Americans. Today we tend to think this policy started with the Reagan administration, and it is true that’s when America started a return to that policy. But the policy is much older than that. It was the flawed policy of the Hoover administration (and previous Republican administrations), and it was directly responsible for turning a serious recession into the Great Depression.

Today our government is beginning to repeat that disastrous bit of history, only this time we have added to it a policy of encouraging American companies to outsource good jobs, so they can turn them into low-wage jobs (with no benefits) in other countries. How can we expect a better outcome now than 80 years ago?

The truth is that the Republicans, with the help of some misguided “blue dog” Democrats, have put us on the path to destruction — and there’s not a thing we can do about it for the next couple of years. Even if the Democrats have enough backbone to block many of the worst Republican cuts to necessary government services (which is in doubt), the Republican control of the House of Representatives will allow them to kill any effort by Democrats to stimulate real job creation.

Buckle your seat belts because we’re in for a very bumpy ride, and the best we can hope for is to survive that ride until enough Americans realize what the Republicans are doing to the economy. I just hope they wake up before we hit the ground and crash.

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

The Rag Blog

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