Employment

Unemployment Up 1 Percent, Freaking Out Up 16 Percent

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According to Pew Research Center, 64 percent of Americans say that it is tough to find a job where they live—up from 48 percent in November 2007.

pewchart

 In fact, the unemployment rate has increased just a little over 1 percent since November 2007. Interestingly, the unemployment rate is virtually identical to where it was in October 2003, the previous high point in oh-my-god-I-can't-get-a-jobism. The perception about the difficultly of finding a job does track actual unemployment, it simply fluctuates insanely out of proportion to the reality. See a chart of unemployment rates below.

And then there's this:

While the perception that jobs are difficult to find has increased among people across the political spectrum, Democrats (70%) and independents (67%) are more likely to say so than are Republicans (53%).

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  1. But is it not the case that the unemployment percentage is not even remotely the same as the number of people currently without jobs who are seeking work or who have abandoned the search?
    My understanding was that the percentage figure bandied about was calculated in such a way that the oldest losers of jobs (those who have been without work past a certain amount of time) are simply eliminated from the calculation.
    If that is indeed correct, there is no real correlation of the sort implied here. It may really be much more difficult to find a job than the unemployment rate suggests, leading to a rather greater validity for the ‘panic’ number and a rather lesser validity for the ‘unemployment percentage’ number.
    Just asking…

    no hugs for thugs,
    Shirley Knott

  2. US Unemployment figures can be misleading. It cuts people who have stopped looking for jobs, for instance.

    Probably a better idea is to track total jobs versus the working-age population. (Minus any permanently disabled).

    Last I checked — which was some time ago — job creation over the last several years or so has barely kept up with, and in some cases lagged, population growth.

  3. Best unemployment story ever from here:

    http://www.poorandstupid.com/chronicle.asp

    Tuesday, October 28, 2008
    NOW HERE’S A CHAIN LETTER THAT MAKES SENSE Making the rounds… small business owners, pass it on!

    Dear Fellow Business Owners

    As a business owner who employs 30 people, I have resigned myself to the fact that Barack Obama will be our next president, and that my taxes and fees will go up in a BIG way.

    To compensate for these increases, I figure that the Customer will have to see an increase in my fees to them of about 8-10%. I will also have to lay off six of my employees.

    This really bothered me as I believe we are family here and didn’t know how to choose who will have to go. So, this is what I did.

    I strolled thru the parking lot and found eight Obama bumper stickers on my employees cars. I have decided these folks will be the first to be laid off. I can’t think of another fair way to approach this problem.

    Thanks to Jameson Campaigne for forwarding.

  4. The unemployment rate is not a measure of how hard it is to find a job. The fact that the rate is increasing says more. The fact that large industries are having massive lay-offs says even more. It isn’t just that there are more people looking for work. It’s that the people your competing against, are now more likely to have years of experience on the specific equipment employers are looking for.

    Now is the perfect time to panic.
    blah blah blah doomcakes

  5. We already know that Republicans are pricks, joshua.

  6. Every time read something about the “Pew Research Center” I just gotta say:

    pew pew pew

    Gotcha!

  7. We already know that Republicans are pricks, joshua.

    Luskin is a libertarian…who he is quoting I have no idea.

  8. Forget about the argument about whether the unemployment rate is the right measurement or not. Even if it’s a great measurement, Katherine is off base here.

    Small changes in the number of available jobs should have dramatic impacts on the perception of whether jobs are easy to find.

    During periods of decreasing unemployment, some jobs are often going unfilled, leading to a “bank” of available jobs that everyone sees and knows about. That means that even if you’re happy in your job and don’t want or need a new job, you will perceive that it would be easy to get a new job if you wanted one.

    During periods of increasing unemployment, that bank of jobs withers away, so even if total employment remains high it’s obvious to everyone that it would be harder to get a new job if you lost yours.

  9. Most of us say the same about Democrats, joe ?

    An interesting point about this economic downturn
    is that it doesn’t have the usual features–unemployment and interest rates remain low, and even inflation isn’t that bad in historical terms.

  10. Forget about the argument about whether the unemployment rate is the right measurement or not. Even if it’s a great measurement, Katherine is off base here.

    Yeah way off base…comparing peoples perception to actual figures is propaganda and misinformation.

  11. 64 percent of Americans say that it is tough to find a job where they live-up from 48 percent in November 2007.

    Maybe they mean a job that’s close to meeting their qualifications/perceived qualifications. I think it’s difficult to find a job that I would want where I live, but I suspect that if I HAD to I could work at the Dollar General.

    Unemployment numbers only attempt to measure unemployment – not how people perceive the job market.

  12. Since downturns hit different areas at different times, a question that asks about how hard it is to find a job “in your area” is of course going to show a higher uptick than national unemployment rates.

  13. to continue my previous point, you’ll notice that the biggest gains were made among those who make 100,000+ and 30-50,000, a range that closely sticks with just-out-of-college graduates, and then also larger gains among those who are college graduates than those with highschool or less.

  14. This poll would only mean something if it was of people who are actually looking for a job. What the hell does someone who is not looking for a job know about how tight the job market is? Maybe if they are doing the hiring for someone, they could say “we are getting more applicants these days the job market must be tighter”. But otherwise their opinion is just a SWAG or in the case of Democrats wishful thinking.

  15. An interesting point about this economic downturn
    is that it doesn’t have the usual features–unemployment and interest rates remain low, and even inflation isn’t that bad in historical terms.

    Well, then obviously the bailout worked.

    *dusts hands off*

    Problem solved!

  16. Unemployment doesn’t include people no longer seeking work but it also doesn’t include those working under the table, off the books, dealing drugs or who otherwise aren’t about to tell the gov’t how they are making a buck.

  17. It seems that REASON columnists are the only ones who believe the current unemployment statistics.

    If you count the long-term unemployed, the actual rate is more like 10-12%

  18. “If you count the long-term unemployed, the actual rate is more like 10-12%”

    The long-term unemployed includes people in nursing homes, housewives who don’t need to work outside the home, the idle rich, college students and any number of other people who choose not to work, including people working under the table or in black market enterprises. You make it sound like all of the long term unemployed are there because they are desparate and can’t find work.

  19. If you count the long-term unemployed, the actual rate is more like 10-12%

    Link?

  20. If you’re a Democrat it probably is harder to find a job.

    It’s tough to be a Democrat.

  21. this economic downturn
    is that it doesn’t have the usual features–unemployment and interest rates remain low, and even inflation isn’t that bad in historical terms.

    Or just go with the obvious, it’s not much of a downturn.

  22. The unemployment rate mentioned above is the strictest accounting of unemployment. I think it’s called the U-3. The U-6 is broader, and looks a lot worse. (In May U-3 was 5.5, but U-6 was 9.7.)

  23. John wrote: “The long-term unemployed includes people in nursing homes, housewives who don’t need to work outside the home, the idle rich, college students and any number of other people who choose not to work, ”

    The U-6 does not include these people.

    ” It includes those people counted by U3, plus marginally attached workers (not looking, but want and are available for a job and have looked for work sometime in the recent past), as well as Persons employed part time for economic reasons (they want and are available for full-time work but have had to settle for a part-time schedule).” (Barry Ritholtz)

  24. The U6 is 11, highest since the measure was made in 1994. Housewives and retirees aren’t included. Though women that worked and then were forced to be housewives to save face may. Seriously John, stick to subjects you know something about, econ ain’t one of them.

  25. My anecdotal experience was absolutely nothing from the time I graduated (mid-2007) until about early this summer.

    Right now I might be in the position to turn down as many as three offers after not getting so much as an interview for the better part of a year.

    Feast or famine I suppose.

  26. a question that asks about how hard it is to find a job “in your area” is of course going to show a higher uptick than national unemployment rates.

    No.

    Go back and read what you wrote joe then think about it again.

  27. Yeah way off base…comparing peoples perception to actual figures is propaganda and misinformation.

    Corning, you’re an idiot. I am pointing out that Katherine’s math is wrong.

    If we had a polity with 1000 persons, all of whom were employed, and there were 10 jobs available that were currently unfilled, a poll of those 1000 persons would probably find the perception that jobs were easy to find. If the system lost 20 jobs, and 990 people were employed, 10 people were unemployed, and there were no jobs currently unfilled, a poll would probably find the perception that jobs were NOT easy to find. And that change in perception would be absolutely, positively, 100% valid, even though only 20 jobs had been lost, and even though the unemployment rate had only moved from 100% to 99%.

  28. I came in here to say basically what Fluffy said. I will just add that an increase from 5% to 6% in the unemployment *rate* means an increase of 20% in the *number* of people unemployed. This can indeed have a large impact on how difficult it is to find a job, for reasons that Fluffy laid out above.

  29. Does anybody know what Mangu-Ward’s point is?

  30. While the perception that jobs are difficult to find has increased among people across the political spectrum, Democrats (70%) and independents (67%) are more likely to say so than are Republicans (53%).

    Doesn’t this imply Republicans are more skilled and more employable than their Democratic and independent neighbors? Maybe they don’t have to cling to guns and religion after all.

  31. cunnivore: ” Republicans are more skilled and more employable than their Democratic and independent neighbors?”

    NO – since business owners are more likely to be Republican (they want to keep more of their ill-gotten profits based on exploitation), and Republicans take care of their own first (recall the guy who said he will fire Obama supporters first), obviously Democrats will be more vulnerable in a downturn.

    Secondly, Republicans are too stupid to challenge anyone and more willing to suck up to the owner than Democrats, who have a mind of their own and a conscience.

  32. OK, Xanthippas, let me help you out. This is what the author is saying: in the past one year, the unemployment rate has only increased 1%, but the number of people who sat that they are having a hard time finding a job has increased 16%. Understand? Good boy.

  33. I just don’t understand why people are upset over unemployment. I was laid off 4 years ago today. I decided I would see how long I could live without seeking employment. A personal requirement is that I do not use any “public” assistance.

    It has been an enjoyable experience. I sit on the computer all day reading blogs and goofing off. I eat well- gained 20-25 pounds. If I want to change that I can exercise any time of the day. I go grocery shopping at 3am and sleep during the day. There have been some lean times, but I am sure I can at least make it through the rest of 2008. I haven’t even considered seeking some job where I will have to apply and interview with some idiot who doesn’t know anything about business, life, or anything in general. I would rather eat a bullet.

    I would be much more worried if I had a job, and my whole life was dependent on the whims of someone else- always worried about getting canned and losing my “benefits” and always looking forward to some “vacation” time where a vacation would mean staying at home cleaning my house ( since things would pile up while I’m away at the job, and I the job wouldn’t pay enough to actually go anywhere on a vacation anyway).

  34. Unemployment is up one precentage point, not one percent. That is a 20% increase in unemployment. Just saying.

    Whether or not that means anything is another question.

  35. My mom broke my pumkin! waaaaaaaaaaaaaa! She ruined it, and my brothers is perfects!

  36. Yes, joshua, I’ll be sure and do that.

    After all, if I write something that you don’t get, but nobody else finds at all notable, it’s probably because I’m not making sense.

    There are no other possibilities. None. Thanks for speaking up.

  37. To Fluffy’s point. I wouldn’t show up on any unemployment number, I’m happily and gainfully employed. However, I periodically look at our internal job bank as well as other opportunities to see if I can upgrade. 6 months ago, I would have said jobs were easy to find. Now, there are far fewer positions available and a lot more hiring freezes. If I were asked today, I would say difficult to find (if there were only 2-3 options).

  38. Does anybody know what Mangu-Ward’s point is?

    Yes

  39. NO – since business owners are more likely to be Republican (they want to keep more of their ill-gotten profits based on exploitation), and Republicans take care of their own first (recall the guy who said he will fire Obama supporters first), obviously Democrats will be more vulnerable in a downturn.

    I don’t know anyone who does hiring and firing who doesn’t care far, far, far less about your politics than they do about your job performance.

    Large-scale layoffs are done “by the numbers” anyway, without any regard whatsoever for political or sexual preference, gender, or even (except at the margins) performance. They are done by job title, not by walking through the parking lot and firing anyone with an Obama sticker on their car.

  40. I was laid off 4 years ago today. I decided I would see how long I could live without seeking employment. A personal requirement is that I do not use any “public” assistance.

    Not to pry, John, but where’s the money coming from? Savings and investments?

  41. Actually if the rate went up 16 points, that means freaking out is up a third.

    Go ahead, deny that we males are the lords of math.

  42. I’ve never been unemployed for more than a month in the 25 years since I got my first job.

  43. Wow, that guy who posted saying Democrats would be more likely to be fired must really have his head up his ass. Then again, I’m biased by the fact that my boss is a highly partisan Democrat who is very concerned that all her emloyees know where she stands.

    Oh, yeah, and I hate being an engineer bossed around on how to do my job by somebody whose closest acquaintance with mathematics is high school trigonometry.

  44. No offense implied to people who never took a higher math than trig, but please don’t talk down to the engineer when he explains why your idea is unworkable. Argue, fine, but the condescending attitude pisses me off to no end. And there’s a reason I only post here using my laptop.

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