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Entangled mess of figures

November 9, 2012
The Daily News


The Daily News Staff Writer Linda Lobeck published an article titled "U.P. jobless rate drops lower than state and, nation."

The article said, "The jobless rate in the Upper Peninsula in September dropped by 1.2 percent, according to figures released by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget."

"The U.P.Jobless rate of 7.2 for September was a full percentage point below the state rate of 8.2 percent and also edged below the national rate of 7.6 percent."

The rest of the story can be found on.

The purpose of this letter is not to challenge the staff writer of The Daily News; she is only passing on information received from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget.

The objective here is to challenge the government figures, and how these assumed figures are formulated. The figures that are released by government agencies are misleading and reflect only a half truth to a very serious social problem in America. (Unemployment)

What is the definition of unemployment? When you are unemployed what means or (rate) are engaged to measure unemployment numbers. Are there other means of measuring the unemployed who have lost their unemployment benefits? What position do they play in this entangled mess of figures?

"Unemployed workers" are those who are currently not working but are willing and able to work for pay, currently available to work, and have actively searched for work. Individuals who are actively seeking job placement must make the effort to: be in contact with an employer, have job interviews, contact job placement agencies, send out resumes, submit applications, respond to advertisement, or some other means of active job searching within the prior four weeks.

This is only a generalized description of the unemployed worker.

The method used in the above description to measure the number of unemployed is known as the U-3 rate. This is the rate most quoted by government agencies, and it does not include those members of the workforce who have lost all their benefits U-6, nor does it include federal and state employees.

The U-6 unemployed rate includes the total from the U-6 and the U-3 unemployed figures, plus all marginally attached workers, total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers. Marginally attached workers are persons who currently are neither working nor looking for work sometime in the recent past. Discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached, have given a job-market related reason for not looking currently for a job.

Persons employed part time for economic reasons are those who want and are available for full-time work but have had to settle for a part time schedule.

In March 2010 the U-3 unemployment rate nationally was 9.7 percent compared to the U-6 rate of 16.9 percent.

Nearly all Democrats and Republicans during the time of an election year love to us the sugar coated version of the U-3 rate. The U-3 rate softens the actual unemployment numbers and gives an improved report (false sense) that unemployment is actually going down.

In actual reality the numbers are not going down but there is a shift in the way the numbers are reported to the media.

Case in point, let's say that there are 100 people unemployed at the end of any given month (U-3). Of that group of 100, 10 people have now lost their unemployment benefits (U-6).

A media reports, the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget reports that unemployment has dropped 10 percent in Michigan.

Did unemployment numbers drop? Absolutely not. The agency only based its figures on those that are drawing unemployment benefits (U-3). There were no considerations for the 10 that have exhausted there benefits (U-6) and remain unemployed.

Last summer a friend and I were in Marquette Michigan at the Unemployment and Problem Solutions Office. I had asked a daunting question to the agency.

What are the actual unemployment figures here in the Upper Peninsula? If you combine all unemployed numbers (U-3) with those that have exhausted their benefits, (U-6) it was estimated to be at 30 percent.

That translates to 30 out of every 100 people.

Two Michigan Republicans lawmakers in 2011 from Michigan's Upper Peninsula voted to cut the maximum number of weeks of unemployment benefits in this state by 6 weeks, in exchange for 6 weeks of federal money. Michigan and Missouri have reduced the maximum number of weeks to 20 while Arkansas went to 25 weeks.

This admission and others before have boosted that the unemployment figures are going down. Their bragging rights; have left America in a sweltering furnace that continues to consume the victim (the unemployed). Nothing solid has been done in this admission in the last 4 years to quench those that have been burnt by lack of work.

Unemployment numbers by government standards today are a travesty that gives a false sense of hope.

Many of our elected officials are using skewed figures from government agencies to heighten there own political ambitions and careers on the backs of the unemployed. This political caricature drowns the American people into a false assurance of a true recovery that is years in the making.

This type of reporting is misleading to the people and the onset continues to drive those with blind ambitions into a nation of greater unemployment and despair.

Karl Ben Weber

Sagola Township



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