Just how dire is the unemployment situation? The May employment situation has just been released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing an unemployment rate of 9.1%. But what are the actual statistics that reveal the true depth of employment misery?
In the month of May the BLS claimed that 139.8 million people were employed out of a civilian noninstitutional population [those who live in the US, older than 16 and not in an institution or active military] of 239.3 million or an effective rate of 58.4%. The civilian labor force which takes into account those the BLS consider employed and actively looking for work (not those who have dropped out of the labor force) stood at 153.7 million or 64.2% of the civilian noninstitutional population.
The last time there were 139.8 million employed (prior to the Obama years) was in October of 2004. At that time the civilian noninstitutional population was 224.2 million for an effective rate of 62.4%. The civilian labor force was estimated to be 147.8 million or 66% of the civilian noninstitutional population. The published unemployment rate was 5.5%.
The most arbitrary of all factors the BLS uses is their calculation of the civilian labor force as that includes those actively looking for work but eliminates those who the BLS estimates have dropped out of the labor force. Yet it is the most important as it can skew the unemployment rate considerably. Therefore using the October 2004 figures as a base the calculations would actually be as follows: the civilian labor force for May of 2011 should be 157.9 million not 153.7 million. As there were 139.8 million people employed, it follows that the unemployment rate would then be 11.5% not 9.1%.
However arbitrary rates aside, the bottom line is that since October of 2004 the overall civilian noninstutional population has increased by 15.1 million people yet there has not been any net new jobs created per the report of May 2011 as the number of those employed is the same.