Is Unemployment Worse Than We Think

The unemployment rate was unchanged in December at 6.7%. This is an increase from the start of the year when the rate was 3.5%. Obviously, things are worse than a year ago, but Eugene Ludwig writes at POLITICO that it’s actually worse than you think. Ludwig argues that the unemployment rate isn’t just an undercount, it actually paints an alternate reality… (POLITICO)

First, there’s no accounting for how many hours a part-time worker is working. By the BLS’ traditional definition, a handyman or private nurse who works for a single afternoon each week is counted in the headline national unemployment figure as “employed,” even if they want more work but can’t find it…Second, the data doesn’t indicate whether the job a worker is doing pays enough to keep them out of poverty. The assumption implicit in the data is that if you’re “employed,” all should be well, but as the growing movement toward raising the minimum wage attests, it’s increasingly clear that many American workers are employed, often full-time, but still living in poverty.