The Washington Note
July 2, 2009
[efoods]Each month, I receive from Leo Hindery an update on “America’s effective unemployment rate” which includes not only the official unemployment figures but other data points showing off-the-books unemployed or underemployed people.
The numbers are staggering and are aggregates of official data. They matter because various Obama administration officials including the President himself started off calling for huge stimulus packages to help generate “jobs, jobs, jobs!”
But now, I have been hearing more and more from senior Obama economic team members about the jobs they hoped for coming at the very tail end of an economic recovery. Others are talking about a GDP recovery — but not a jobs recovery. They are admitting as well that they underestimated the severity of this recession and its impact on unemployment levels.
And all this while Goldman Sachs and other financial houses have seen their balance sheets get cleaned up and bonuses surge.
Here is a June 2009 version of the summary that calculates the Effective Unemployment Rate, which is now 18.70%, and the Effective Number of Unemployed, which is now 30,172,000.
There are currently 14,729,000 officially unemployed workers, as just announced. However, this figure does not include the combined 15,443,000 workers either (1) in the “labor force reserve” because they have abandoned their job searches (i.e., 4,278,000) or (2) underemployed because they are “part-time of necessity” (i.e., 8,989,000) or “otherwise marginally attached” (i.e., 2,176,000).
The effective unemployment rate is therefore 18.70%, instead of the official 9.51%.
Since the start of the recession in December 2007, the number of workers who are officially unemployed has increased by 7,188,000, while almost twice as many workers – 13,290,000 – have become effectively unemployed. And all the while, we should have been creating around 2,250,000 new jobs (i.e., 18 months times 125,000 jobs per month) just to keep up with population growth.
In June, the number of workers officially unemployed increased 218,000, while the number of workers effectively unemployed actually decreased 35,000.
It’s important to see the entire picture of America’s jobs profile — no matter how unpleasant.
I recognize that credit bubble related recoveries are hard to work out and are usually quite slow — with job growth at the back end. This all makes sense — but with Christina Romer out raising expectations again with giddy talk predicting a V-shaped recovery and given the “jobs, jobs, jobs” mantra of President Obama himself — the gap between the job figures expected and the disappointing economic realities generated may be politically consequential.