Bureau of Labor Statistics: Lies, damned lies, and statistics

Unemployment numberThose who truly understand how the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculate the unemployment rate have been saying for years that the matrix used to determine joblessness in the United States is imperfect and inaccurate. Now, a new poll by Gallup supports this contention.

While the Obama administration is all-too-eager to tout the falling unemployment rate—currently under 6%—as proof that his anti-capitalist, over-regulating, big government policies are working, Gallup CEO and Chairman Jim Clifton says that they are misleading at best, and Joseph Goebbels-styled propaganda at worst, calling it “The Big Lie.”

According to the poll:

  • If you are unemployed and have subsequently given up on finding a job over the past four weeks, the government doesn’t consider you unemployed. Right now, there are 30+ million Americans who fall into this category.
  • If you’re an out-of-work professional—such as an engineer, healthcare worker, construction worker or retail manager—and you perform a minimum of ONE HOUR OF WORK per week and are paid at least $20, you’re not officially counted as unemployed.
  • If you are college graduate with a degree in chemistry or math and are working 10 hours a week on a part-time basis because that’s all you’ve been able to find—in other words, you are severely underemployed—the government doesn’t count you either.

Gallup also conducts surveys to determine the unemployment rate that are based on a rolling 30-day average and are not seasonally adjusted. In that report, they have determined that only 44.1% of the whole American population is working more than 30 hours per week. Though not a part of this Gallup poll, it was just a few months ago the labor participation rate fell to a 36 year low, with a record 92.6 Million Americans not in the labor force.

Gallup concluded that the underemployment rate (part-time workers) at 15.9% of the public and has calculated the real unemployment rate at 7.1%. Using these real numbers, Gallup also claims the unemployment rate has increased by over one percentage point since mid-December.

Mark Twain once said: “There are three kinds of lies — lies, damned lies and statistics“. Sounds a lot like Obama’s unemployment report to me.