AP Lies on unemployment (updated)

The Associated Press reported on passage of the Democrats' "stimulus" bill .  But in that story the AP reported that unemployment is the highest in a "quarter-century".

No its not.  It's the highest since 1993, just 15 years go, not 25 years ago.  You can check it out yourself at the US Bureau of Labor .  The most recent unemployment rate, for December 2008, is 7.2%.  It was 7.3% in January of 1993.  That is 16 years ago, not a quarter century ago.  And it was above 7.2% from December 1991 through January 1993 - 14 months.

Until we go over 10%, the "quarter-century" mark is safe.

Unemployment rates of 7.2% or higher were reached in 1949, 1958, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1991, 1992, and 1993.

Other than that, the current unemployment rate is unprecedented since 1948.

I might add a few other tidbits.

  • Before the bailout bill was passed, the unemployment rate was 6.2%.
  • The last month before Democrats took over Congress, December 2006, it was 4.4%.
  • The new Democrat-controlled Congress passed the first minimum-wage increase in 10 years. Just before it went up, in the summer of 2007, the unemployment rate was 4.5%.
  • The unemployment rate averaged 5.2% through all of President Clinton's two terms, and 5.3% through all of President Bush's terms - if we include December 2008. If we don't include December 2008, they both averaged 5.2%.
  • The average unemployment rate in George W. Bush's 8 years in office was lower than all 8-year periods starting after November 1967 and ending before November 2000.

Just thought you might like to know.  Some people seem to think history started around December 2000.

I think I know how the AP got its figures.  In another AP story, "Jobless Rate Hits All-Time High" , the AP supported its headline (and the item in its previous story?) by saying that a Labor Department analyst said that, as a percentage of the total workforce, the number of people receiving unemployment is the highest since 1983.

Maybe that's true, but it is a statistic that has never been calculated or reported before, to my knowledge.  Usually we go by the "unemployment rate", something the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates and publishes -- in historical tables, even.  But by that measure, we're only as bad as we were 16 years ago.  In order to make us look as bad as 25 years ago, an anonymous "analyst" had to make up a new statistic for the AP reporter.

A "rate" is one number divided by another number.  As I understand the normal unemployment rate, it is the number of people out of work dividided by the number of people who are either working or looking for work.  This new statistic seems to have both a different numerator (unemployment recipients) and denominator (total workforce).

Yet we can't look it up.  It was told to an AP reporter by an anonymous analyst.

Can't the AP just go by officially published government data?