We are celebrating a dip in unemployment to a three-year low of 8.1 percent, but it doesn't add up. The Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reports this assumption -- yes, an assumption based on a raw data. For those of us who look at the summary, we think this is great news, assuming more of the unemployed are now working. But we need to keep a critical eye on the news feeds with analytical balance. Something doesn't add up. Are we celebrating false achievement?
While we watch the news reports and the political pundits sweep excitement about the dip in unemployment, it makes us wonder: what is the truth and why doesn't it add up? We have multitudes of government employees crunching this data. Is this creative accounting? Or is there a misunderstanding/miscommunication about the real snapshot of our crisis with unemployment?
What is the real rate of unemployment in America? We need to consider several factors: the ever-increasing labor pool, as well as the dejected people leaving the pool or being forced out, the rate of job creation, which has recently dramatically dropped to 115,000 (actually the smallest increase in new payrolls in six months).
We must not forget to consider:
• The jobless or underemployment rate of 53.6 percent for recent college graduates
• 5.1 percent unemployment with at least a bachelor's degree is the highest since 1970.
• 154,365,000 Americans are in the employment pool -- but why is the figure out of the starting gate less than in 2009? This figure is not static. We have at least 2 percent more not less in the pool.
• 968,000 discouraged workers dropped out of the candidate pool in April. Are we ready to discount those dejected job candidates that have given up the search?
We must remember "'tis the season" of spin from the political parties. It's an election year, after all, and we analyze information with our own filters. We see comments about obstruction and discrimination of women (whose unemployment rate is 0.1 percent lower than that of men). But what we want are facts that help us to plan our future careers.
The White House claims that there is a different picture, a more optimistic look at the data. "We see a picture of the economy healing," White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Alan Krueger said in an interview on CNBC. We need workable details. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney claims he has the answer. What is it? We want to see it.
Some facts that are not changing:
• We can't compete with the salaries of off-shored manufacturing, simple. Unless American workers want to take extreme reductions in pay or enter into concession bargaining with the unions, it just ain't gonna happen.
• Small companies are planning to keep their employee numbers under 50 to keep away from the Obamacare umbrella. Many more plan to take a penalty from Washington that is much cheaper than paying for health care.
• Until we are ready to loosen the reins on small business, which is the backbone of job recovery, we won't see significant movement. Watch and see what would happen with more leverage and power on the part of these employers.
• Multi-national companies legally avoid federal taxes by sending jobs offshore. Pull the reins in on this practice that is contributing to the American job crisis.
Eliminate the purveyors of the raw data. Yes, eliminate many of the departments that provide a piece of the pie without considering the whole picture. Merge the number crunchers and make them accountable for the data in one governmental agency that considers the whole ball of wax. We deserve nothing less. While I don't like the idea of expansion of government departments, we need to create a team of expert economists to spit out the real skinny without spin. Charge them to wade through the murky data and make sense of it for us starry eyed unemployed hopefuls. We need accurate, solid information and direction.
Here is the latest -- 12.5 million Americans unemployed and a combination of 22 million Americans unemployed or working in the category of underemployed. Now that is a startling figure that equates to serious problems for Americans and our communities.
Consider this data. Sleep on it. I did, and it doesn't add up. What is the real rate of unemployment? Many economists estimate it at least 10 percent and more, considering the Americans who have given up the fight and the adjusted starting gate figures of below 2009 (that are used in the Department of Labor). This is nothing to celebrate.
Call 'em out, ride 'em in, all of them on all sides of the problem. And above all, provide accurate details for our consumption about our livelihoods. In my book, this is nothing to celebrate.