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Dan martin (c)copyright 2011

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Let me see if I have this right. Although only 103,000 new jobs were generated in December, the unemployment rate is down because a large number of people have simply thrown their hands in the air and given up trying to find employment.

According to the grand pooh-bahs at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the District of Criminals (D.C.), the unemployment rate fell to 9.4%

And, the whole construct will likely be “seasonally adjusted” in a few weeks.

If this does not have a solid ring to it, you have a good ear. Unfortunately, it is typical of the way government treats statistics of all kinds.

The U-3 unemployment rate is the monthly “headline number.” The U-6 unemployment rate is the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) broadest unemployment measure, including short-term discouraged and other marginally-attached workers as well as those forced to work part-time because they cannot find full-time employment.

The U-6 unemployment rate is 16.8%. (Do not think for one minute that was easy to find.) Why isn’t this more accurate measure of the status quo the “headline number?”

Why should you care?

There are some very good reasons we should all be clamoring for a more straightforward assessment of the condition of our economy.

Consider just one of them. Extended unemployment benefits were recently made available to many long-term unemployed, contingent on their state’s unemployment rate. Minnesota did not make the cut. Many unfortunate victims of the economy will turn up at your local food shelf simply because our state’s unemployment rate is artificially low.

Here are some reasons why the Washington Post, under the headline “How nation’s true jobless rate is closer to 22%”, says “. . . the government’s employment numbers aren’t believable.”

Another example is the supposed current inflation rate of 1.9%. If you have recently been to a grocery store or a service station, you don’t believe that for a minute. If food and fuel are included in the equation, the true inflation rate is more than three times higher than the government’s “headline figure.”

However, because the government has chosen to go with the 1.9% construct, no cost of living increase was factored into Social Security benefits this year.

It is no wonder the vast majority of people do not believe anything the government tells them.

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