Friday, May 8, 2009

The truth behind the latest labor stats

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Labor Department reported Thursday that the number newly laid off workers applying for benefits dropped to 601,000 last week. That was far better than the rise to 635,000 claims that economists expected. But the total number of people receiving jobless benefits climbed to 6.35 million, a 14th straight record.
There's one small problem with the bold statement above. The population of the U.S. has roughly doubled since the 1950s, so comparisons of today's unemployed (unadjusted) to past periods is meaningless without adjusting for the population. The current number of unemployed (6.2 million average for April) is about 2% of the current U.S. population (estimated 306.56 million for April), which is still below the 2.12% level in 1975. So the claim of a 14th straight record for Americans receiving jobless benefits is not accurate, after adjusting for the size of the U.S. population.

1 comment:

Rick Brown said...

Charlie, Is it fair to say that in 72 the number of undocumented workers, (farm, hotel and restraunt and construction) was a fraction of what it is today? Documented seasonal workers relied heavily on unemployment benefits in 72. Are todays undocumented employees part of the statistics?