How Many People Are REALLY Unemployed?

The New York Times has a story in this morning’s edition about how badly off the “official” jobs number actually is. I’ve been saying this for a long time — the real number of people unemployed or underemployed in the U.S. is far higher than the projections.

The official unemployment rate from the BLS is now at 6.7 percent. The NYT estimates that if you take all those who are underemployed and you add them to those who are so discouraged that they simply gave up looking for a job, the true unemployment rate would be somewhere around 12.5 percent — almost double where it is now.

I’d like to point out that this number doesn’t include what I think is a huge cadre of people who consider themselves employed but aren’t doing the kind of business they used to, including self-employed attorneys, real estate agents, appraisers, professional home inspectors, housing contractors, etc. And let’s not get into how many illegal workers are now out of jobs, failing to provide for their families or sending money back to their home countries.

The true rate of unemployed or underemployed could be significantly higher.

Are you feeling the pinch? This week, I heard about two white-collar, successful professionals who were seemingly secure who were abruptly fired. They are very necessary breadwinners in their respective households, and each earn nice six-figure incomes. When people like these lose jobs, the ripple effect is far and wide – and worrisome for all.

Is your job safe? How safe?

Dec. 6, 2008.


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