So, how about all those new jobs you hear about on the media? Those low unemployment rates?
If you want a realistic look at unemployment, you cannot simply look at the official unemployment numbers. You have to look at that plus the Labor Participation Rate (LPR). This is a number which states a percentage of US residents over the age of 16 are employed or seeking employment.
The Labor Participation Rate is one of the few numbers which the government keeps fairly current. You can find the official rates here, updated monthly. It is current through January 2019 because February is not yet over.
If you open the page, it gives you a graph and table. What this information shows is that labor participation has declined fairly steadily since 2009, with fairly minor variations. In 2009, it reached a peak of 65.8%. The lowest rate in 10 years was 62.7% in 2016. The lowest in 2018 was also 62.7%. The current rate is 63.1%.
So, what do these numbers mean?
I could not find information about ages 16–18 which was reliable. However, percentage of the population under 18 is 22.6%. Actual US population is estimated at 327,167, 434 as of July 2018. That gives a population over 18 of 253,196,634 people. Those are the numbers I will work with, which should be fairly accurate for this purpose. For simplicity, I am using the 2018 population as a constant and am rounding numbers.
So with these numbers, we had an LPR in 2009 in total numbers of 166,603,385. In 2018, we had a low of 158,754,290. In current numbers, we have an LPR of 159,767,076.
So, between 2009, the height of the recession, we have seen a decrease in the LPR of 6,836,309 (January 2019). That many people have dropped out of the job market for one reason or another.
What is striking is that the number of people entering or re-entering the job market has increased since September 2018. The birth rate has been dropping for at least two decades, so this is an indication that retired people are re-entering the job market.
The official number of unemployed per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is currently 6.5 million. But that does not include the number of people who have dropped out of the labor market completely. When we add the 6.5 million to the decreased number stated above, that equals over 12.8 million Americans not employed. So, more than double the 8% unemployment rate being stated.
The BLS also stated that unemployment increased slightly in January.
I have explained before that the median income is complete BS. The way that works is an average, which looks like this: If a CEO makes $990,000 a year and their employee makes $10,000 a year, the total is $1 million. Averaged out, median income becomes $500,000. And that refers only to wages, not income.
Let’s go further with that. If one investor makes $100 million and 99 people are in the LPR with NO income, the median income becomes $1 million, making it appear as though all those people made $1 million each that year.
The US Census Bureau estimates that 12–13% of Americans are currently below the poverty line.
48% of Americans earn less than $30,000 a year. 69% of Americans earn less than $50,000 a year.
I have pointed out previously that the bar for being considered employed is extremely low. If you work 1 hour a week, you are considered employed. So obviously unemployment does not mean you earn a living wage or anywhere near it.
Of course, I have already written about the fact that corporations are laying people of by tens of thousands, nearly all permanently. Ford, GM, GE all announced mass layoffs in Nov and Dec. Harley-Davidson closed one plant and moved the operations to Thailand. Carrier announced layoffs in the US, with a new location in Mexico. Sears/KMart went bankrupt and is unlikely to recover this time. Toys R Us and numerous other retail chains have ceased to exist. There are more to follow as equity retail space loans come due in balloon payments.
Vehicle repossessions are rising. So are defaults on federal student loans, which carry penalties which can impact a consumer’s credit for life, even after IRS seizure of refunds, income and assets. Consumer credit debt is at the highest level in history while income remains stagnant. Home sales are on a downward slide, not just domestically but throughout the western world. The number of Americans without health insurance has increased by 7 million in 2 years.
All of this flies directly in the face of any claims that jobs are being created or that income levels are rising. When the claims are made that income levels are rising, that refers to the median income described above. When they talk about employment, it’s nothing short of a fabrication for political expediency.
The media is not going to report the truth because it would reflect badly on their corporate advertisers. Can’t have an informed audience taking to the streets to protest against their income sources, can we?
The real impetus here is on us, to be accurately informed. To confirm the information we receive rather than believe it blindly without question. To share that accurate information with others. To call out false information as it is presented.