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Is Unemplyoment Really Improving?

Is Unemplyoment Really Improving?

    “The unemployment rate fell to 8.6% … This is the lowest rate in two years.”

If you take look at the unemployment statistics reported by Washington, you might think that the economy is turning around.

We decided to dig into these figures and see what they are really saying.

The results may surprise you …

The Unemployment Rate – Simple Math

Let’s take a quick look at how the unemployment rate is calculated:

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Unemployment Rate = Unemployed Workers / Total Workers

Here’s an example: Let’s assume you have a country with 1000 people:

  • Total Workers = 600 (the other 400 people are children, students, retired, or unable to work).
  • Unemployed Workers = 60
  • Unemployment Rate = 60 / 600 = 10%

If 5 jobs are added, the number of unemployed workers drops to 55, and the unemployment rate falls to 9.2% (55 / 600).

8.6% — You Must Be Kidding!

Here in the United States, there is a little trick to the unemplyoment rate calculation. The rate can fall because new jobs were added (like in our example above), or because the number of Total Workers falls.

Continuing with the our example, let see what happens when the number of Total Workers falls:

  • Total Workers = 590
  • Unemployed Workers = 50
  • Unemployment Rate = 50 / 590 = 8.5%

As you can see, when 10 Unemployed Workers “decide to leave the work force” the unemployment rate suddenly improves.

Did You “Leave The Workforce”?

What the government statistics show is that the workforce got smaller. They say that this is because people retired, or “gave up looking for work”. As a result, the unemployment rate appears lower, which suggesting that the economy improved.

The Bottom Line

The good news is that there were approximately 120,000 jobs created last month. This is real progress.

The Unemployment Rate, fell, in part, due to an increase in the number of Americans who “decided to leave the workforce”.

 

What are your thoughts on these government statistics? Feel free to leave a comment below.

 

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American Jobs Act Update - December 2nd

American Jobs Act Update – December 2, 2011

Last week, President Obama signed into law the Vow to Hire Heroes Act. This new law covers one of the many proposals put forth in the American Jobs Act.

 

American Jobs Act – background

Back in September, the President introduced the American Jobs Act, which had four primary areas of job creation:

  • Construction: Projects to improve basic infrastructure, roads, and schools will help employ thousands of workers in construction related fields.
  • Teachers: Aid to state and local governments will help keep teachers employed by using funds to prevent layoffs.
  • Veterans: Businesses will be given tax credits for hiring returning veterans.
  • Long-Term Unemployed: Employers will receive a $4,000 tax credit for hiring long-term unemployed workers. Note: They are defining “long-term” as six months or more.

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In addition, the American Jobs Act would allow for an extension of unemployment benefits through the end of 2012.

Over the last couple of months, the American Jobs Act has not received enough support on its own in order to be passed into law. Recently, specific components of the legislation, e.g. support for veterans, have been brought forth on an individual basis.

 

Vow to Hire Heroes Act

The legislislation enacted yesterday addressed the aspect of the American Jobs Act that addresses the 850,000 American veterans who are out of work. Specifically, it provides an incentive for businesses to hire veterans: A $2,400 tax credit for hiring veterans who have been out of work for four months, and a $5,600 tax credit for hiring veterans who have been out of work for six months or longer.

Of note, this bill received a unanimous vote of 422 to 0 in the House of Representatives.

While veterans represent fewer that 10% of Americans who are out of work, the passage of this bill may encourage Congress to consider further aspects of the American Jobs Act.

 

 

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Unemployment Extension Update - November 14th

Unemployment Extension Update – November 14, 2011

There are two separate unemployment extensions being discussed in Congress at the moment:

  • HR 3346 – The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2011
  • HR 589 – The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Expansion Act of 2011

While they have similar names, the two pieces of legislation are quite different. We highlight the details, and how they might impact you, below.

 

HR 3346 – The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2011

Federal unemployment benefits — the unemplyoment benefits you receive after the 26 weeks of Regular Benefits are exhausted — are set to expire on December 31, 2011. If this happens, as many as 2 million unemployed Americans will lose benefits in January 2012.

Last week, legislation was introduced that would extend these benefits through the end of 2012. As a reminder, these federally-funded unemployment benefits provide anywhere from 34 to 73 weeks of additional unemployment insurance after state-funded regular benefits run out.

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The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act has support in Congress, and will definitely receive more attention in the coming weeks. If history is a guide, given the extensions that passed in the last two years, it seems likely that this bill will pass, even if it happens after the December 31st deadline.

 

HR 589 – The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Expansion Act of 2011

As mentioned, the Federal unemployment benefits provide extensions resulting in a total of up to 99 weeks of unemployment insurance. That said, millions of American workers have exhausted the total number of available weeks.

The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Expansion Act, sponsored by Representative Barbara Lee, would
add an additional 14 weeks of benefits for those who have already received the maximum number of weeks of Federal unemployment benefits.

Also referred to as “Tier 5″, this expansion of benefits has been discussed over the last several months, but has yet to gain the necessary support in Congress. The most recent efforts made by Representative Barbara Lee and her co-sponsors have attempted to incorporate this legislation into the President’s jobs bill.

 

We will continue to keep you updated on both pieces of legislation, as well as The American Jobs Act.