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Interesting Math In the world of Republicans, two plus two equals twenty two
by Bryan Zepp Jamieson
January 11, 2004

The new labor and unemployment figures are just out, and while the unemployment rate fell in December to 5.7 from 5.9 the month previous, you won't hear the Republicans cheering much about this.

The reason is that the numbers surrounding the employed labor force show, once and for all, what a load of pure hooey the "unemployment rate" really is.

Let's play with some numbers. There are 146 million people in the labor force, give or take. The percentage of unemployed is derived from that number. If the labor force was 150 million (rounded up to make the math clearer), and 5 million were unemployed, the rate would be 3%. If 15 million were unemployed, the rate would be 10%.

So for the rate to drop two tenths of a percent of 146 million, it would be 146,000,000 X .002, or 292,000.

Now, 292,000 people finding work in one month would be quite an accomplishment. Clinton only averaged 240,000 a month, although of course, that was over an eight year period. 292,000 new jobs would have Bush trumpeting with joy, the election a much surer thing.

So how many jobs did the economy actually expand by last month?

One thousand. For the Republicans out there, that's a one followed by three zeroes. It's not a lot of jobs. It's less than 292,000. It's less than 240,000. It's less than the 150,000 new jobs needed each month to keep pace with the growing population.

Howard Dean noted that the Bush economy needed a full month to accomplish what Clinton did each and every three hours of his two terms add one thousand jobs. Dick Gephardt called it "pathetic."

So far since Bush took office, we've had a net loss of 2.4 million jobs. That's as the labor force grew by five and a half million new workers, which means that there are nearly eight million more people who need jobs than what there were in early January of 2001. When Clinton left office, the unemployment number was 3.9%. 1.8% of the labor force is about two and a half million jobs lost since then.

But in reality, a lot more people are out of work. Eight million more since just three years ago. That isn't accounting smoke and mirrors; that's the actual number. Eight million.

It's obvious enough that the Republican spin machine didn't try to spin it. Too risky. They settled for Bush crowing that the change from 5.9 to 5.7 was proof the tax cuts were working, and since nobody with any brains takes him seriously anyway, that was meant to keep the morons in line, and the morons only. The rest of us can only watch the slow motion avalanche of laissez-faire economics that Bush's backers have foisted on us.

In a previous essay, "Employment in America" (May 5th, 2003, http://www.zeppscommentaries.com/Sociology/labor.htm) I explained how the unemployment rate was purest fantasy of the utmost ray serene. The essay explains how the real unemployment number was over 10%. The numbers at the start of this essay prove it again. The unemployment rate that the BLS uses is bunk.

So how does it work? How did we get a measurement decrease indicating 292,000 people found work when in fact, the job shortage grew by 149,000?

Nearly 400,000 unemployed people gave up and quit looking for work. Nearly half a million people simply lost hope. And if you haven't looked for work in the past four weeks, you are no longer considered part of the labor force.

Another reason for the "improvement" is that the number of new part time jobs increased, while full time jobs decreased. Part time workers averaging more than 34 hours a week are considered employed. That's nearly 20 million workers. Mostly in the poorly-paying service sector. If you want to consider a job something that pays $160 a week (minimum wage at 35 hours, minus those payroll taxes the Wall Street Journal whines "lucky duckies" don't have to pay), go right ahead. Take that job, and give yours to someone who could use some actual income.

What is really a disgrace is that the corporate media keeps prattling on about "the recovery." What is this recovery, exactly?

Well, the Dow Jones has gone up, from 8,500 at the end of 2002, to 10,500 now. That's pretty impressive, and I bet a lot of small investors who got screwed by the corporate scandals and the subsequent bombing of the market take a great deal of pleasure in knowing that if they had any money left to invest in the market, having already lost it in the market, they would have an 18% return on their investment right now.

Except the Dow, like the unemployment rate, is a sham. It's a fraud, a fake, a ruse. It's a load of crap.

That number the Dow Jones uses? The one presently hovering around 10,500? That is the value of the combined 30 company stocks that make up the Dow, expressed in dollars.

And the Dow is up 18%. Wow.

Except that the Dow is valued in dollars. And the dollar over that same period is DOWN by 25%. Double wow.

The Euro was worth 82 cents a year ago. Now it's at $1.28. The Pound has gone from $1.50 to $1.85. The Australian dollar has gone from 52 cents to 79 cents. And so on. The dollar, largely as a consequence of the huge budget deficits and the huge trade deficits, has been losing value steadily.

In a way, letting the dollar devalue like that made good sense. A year ago, a lot of economists were worried about deflation, and bombing the currency is always a good way to stave off deflation. And of course, the inflated Wall Street numbers make it look like the economy is rebounding.

It isn't. The numbers are as phony and as misleading as the unemployment numbers that came out this week.

We killed thousands of people in an attack on a non-aggressor nation that Bush gave patently false reasons for staging. To this day, there are a lot of morons running loose who really believe Saddam was an immediate threat, had something to do with 9/11, or that Bush really gave a damn about the Iraqi people. There's one born every minute.

Bush is counting on those same morons to believe that the economy is recovering, and that soon they will be happy and rich.

Since he's already gotten away (literally) with murder, what's a little flim-flam?

Topplebush.com
Posted: January 11, 2004

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