POKING HOLES IN UNEMPLOYMENT STATS - "Suspicion And Disdain"

(01/05/2010)

OPINION By Bob Weaver

For a number of years the Herald has poked at the issuance of unemployment numbers, complaining the statistic does not reflect the real unemployment problem.

The statistic is widely used to broad-stroke the status of the economy.

The statistic in WV is heralded each month to indicate what counties have the least unemployment, and what counties have the most.

A while back, Pendleton County almost had the least amount of unemployment in WV, when in reality there is gross unemployment and a lack of jobs in that area.

Workforce WV's statistic is primarily based on how many people are currently receiving unemployment.

The federal unemployment numbers rely on a well-worn formula going back to 1878.

Justin Fox in Time says, "Once the indispensable, largely unquestioned measure of the job market, the unemployment rate is now treated with suspicion and disdain."

While most Americans lean toward instant gratification, wanting their politicians to jump-start the economy within months, we're in the worst mess since the Great Depression.

History, rarely recalled, says that the Great Depression lasted 10 years, until World War II pulled the economy from the ditch.

It's unlikely the government will come up with a formula that accurately reflects the status, what with millions of jobs globalized, income stagnant and more people "between jobs" than reported.


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