(For those of you who don't know who Abbott and Costello were, too bad . . . . . but don't worry about it.) Abbott and Costello explain Obama's Accounting System. COSTELLO: I want to talk about the unemployment rate in America. ABBOTT: Good Subject. Terrible Times. It's 9%. COSTELLO: That many people are out of work? ABBOTT: No, that's 16%. COSTELLO: You just said 9%.
ABBOTT: 9% Unemployed.
COSTELLO: Right 9% out of work.
ABBOTT: No, that's 16%.
COSTELLO: Okay, so it's 16% unemployed.
ABBOTT: No, that's 9%...
COSTELLO: WAIT A MINUTE. Is it 9% or 16%?
ABBOTT: 9% are unemployed. 16% are out of work.
COSTELLO: IF you are out of work you are unemployed.
ABBOTT: No, you can't count the "Out of Work" as the unemployed. You have to look for work to be unemployed.
COSTELLO: BUT THEY ARE OUT OF WORK!!!
ABBOTT: No, you miss my point.
COSTELLO: What point?
ABBOTT: Someone who doesn't look for work, can't be counted with those who look for work. It wouldn't be fair.
COSTELLO: To whom?
ABBOTT: The unemployed.
COSTELLO: But they are ALL out of work.
ABBOTT: No, the unemployed are actively looking for work. Those who are out of work stopped looking. They gave up. And, if you give up, you are no longer in the ranks of the unemployed.
COSTELLO: So if you're off the unemployment rolls, that would count as less unemployment?
ABBOTT: Unemployment would go down. Absolutely!
COSTELLO: The unemployment just goes down because you don't look for work?
ABBOTT: Absolutely it goes down. That's how you get to 9%. Otherwise it would be 16%. You don't want to read about 16% unemployment, do ya?
COSTELLO: That would be frightening.
COSTELLO: Wait, I got a question for you. That means there are two ways to bring down the unemployment number?
ABBOTT: Two ways is correct.
COSTELLO: Unemployment can go down if someone gets a job?
COSTELLO: And unemployment can also go down if you stop looking for a job?
COSTELLO: So there are two ways to bring unemployment down, and the easier of the two is to just stop looking for work.
ABBOTT: Now you're thinking like an economist.
COSTELLO: I don't even know what the hell I just said!
Sheesh people. Learn to square a measure or an indicator with reality. The unemployment rate measures what it measures--the number of people who are not working and who looked for work in the past four weeks. This is what the unemployment rate has always measured.
The unemployment rate is a very good indicator of the health of the labor market. When the labor market is good, it goes down. When it is bad, it goes up. That is what an indicator is supposed to do. Correlate with what it indicates.
These alternative indicators report ALL of the things you people constantly whine about not being reported in the unemployment rate. In fact, if the BLS did not report these figures, neither you nor Rush Limbaugh would know to whine about them not being included in the unemployment rate. You complain that someone is trying to trick you by citing figures from the people who you accuse of tricking you.
So please, simply do what economists do, and note that the unemployment rate is an indicator of the health of the labor market, but not the only indicator, and that the unemployment rate is exceptionally high right now and has been for some time.
Think about yourselves for a moment. You are people who swallow every outlandish email forward without a whiff of skepticism but who have decided every consistent scientific poll or measure is some sort of a lie or a trick. You need your heads examined.