05 December 2011

Uncommon Commentary #230: A Suggestion That Makes a Lott of Sense

Considering what lies behind the misleadingly positive report for November on hiring and on lack thereof—you can get the details in this article, by the invaluable John Lott—I think that it's about time for the Department of Labor to abolish the current method for determining the unemployment rate, and begin to do something simple: report periodically on the percentage of US citizens as a whole, not just of those who have sought work over the past month, who are unemployed. (Annotations should be made concerning mitigating factors, such as unpaid furloughs and the reduction of employees from full-time to part-time status.)  Not all those who are unemployed will have either lost jobs or failed to find work because of the 2007-2009 recession and quasi-recovery from the same (among others, retirees, most children, and many students will be included in this category), but the statistic will provide a point from which to track future fluctuations (and will much more accurately track the shrinking and expanding of the workforce than a system that gives the impression that the economy had a relatively good month, when in reality almost half a million job-seekers gave up on finding work).