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What criteria should we use to judge unemployment?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by deonb, Jan 20, 2017.

  1. deonb

    deonb Supporting Member

    Mar 4, 2013
    Redmond, WA
    The U.S. unemployment report was released yesterday and a friend of mine posted it on Facebook with the words: "Trump, your move". He's effectively challenging Trump to improve on those same numbers.

    But that's probably not fair - the complaint over the last few years from the opposition were that the numbers used by the labor department isn't correct or relevant.

    So what is the correct values we should be looking at instead?

    I don't want to argue whether or not Obama did a good or bad job - that's beside the point and will get the thread locked. Just - what should be the measure of the government doing a good job with the unemployment?

    Put another way - what does success look like?
  2. jsmay311

    jsmay311 Member

    Apr 22, 2016
    Chicago suburbs
    The arguments that the official unemployment number aren't "correct" or "relevant" are both utter nonsense, often veering into conspiracy theory and fake news territories.

    What can be fairly and truthfully stated is that the official unemployment number alone doesn't give you the full picture of the overall health of the job market.

    The labor force participation rate in particular is what many Obama critics have pointed to as a weak spot compared to the strong unemployment numbers, although they often do so with exaggeration and/or ignoring some of the main drivers of its decline, such as baby boomer retirements and increased rates of college attendance. (Here's a relevant article from Declining Labor Participation Rates)

    Average earnings and other measures are also obviously relevant to the big picture.

    In summary, there is no one magic metric to point to.
    • Like x 2
  3. ohmman

    ohmman Maximum Plaid Member

    Feb 13, 2014
    North Bay, CA
    The most important thing is that we use a broad metric consistently. That way we can compare how things work from year to year or administration to administration. I believe the BLS method is totally reasonable today, despite what detractors want to say. I'd enjoy hearing a better way to get the metric in a reasonable fashion.
  4. cpa

    cpa Active Member

    May 17, 2014
    Central Valley
    This is what I use for the State of California:

    The California Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund as of November 2016 is $3.471 billion in the red. You can see the chart here:

    Quick Statistics

    As of January 19, 2017, California still owes the United States Treasury Unemployment Trust Fund $4.123 billion. You can see this amount here: It is updated each day, so this number will change daily, and it accrues interest.

    UI Budget, Employment & Training Administration (ETA) - U.S. Department of Labor

    Now, once the IRS processes all the federal unemployment tax returns for 2016, this $4 billion figure will drop quite a bit. Every private employer in the state of California has to pony up an additional 1.8% in federal unemployment taxes on the first $7,000 paid each year to each employee. My sources think that maybe this deficit will be paid in full sometime in 2020. But if we hit another recession, who is to say?

    We can debate the statistics bandied about by various pundits and governmental agencies. To my way of thinking, it is all about the money. If the unemployment trust funds around the US are solvent and pay out amounts less than or equal to for benefits than they receive in employer contributions and interest, then we are doing quite well. But if these funds are in decline, I do not care what the statistics say. Sumpin's wrong.
  5. Canuck

    Canuck Well-Known Member

    Nov 30, 2013
    South Surrey, BC
    What I don't get is that the wall is being built in a large part to protect American jobs. Now it has just been announced that a 20% tax on products from Mexico is being proposed to pay for the wall. Just wait until the crops are rotting in the fields because no one will pick them, and Mexico's crops will be 20% more. The poor American family trying to feed itself -- the answer to which is that it's good for "jobs" which the Trump administration said you will get in return for higher prices. But the unemployment rate is 4.9%. Even if we don't accept this number I don't think anyone can dispute that the jobs being taken are low paying jobs that many Americans won't do.

    Maybe we can build a wall on our southern border too and get America to pay for it... ;)

    This is close to my home - zero avenue - Washington on one side, South Surrey, BC on the other...:

    Commonly referred to as "the world's longest undefended border". Too bad most of the world was not like this!
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