Nothing to Celebrate: This Labor Day, Don't Party, Organize and Raise Hell!
This faux "workers’ holiday" on Monday is not a day for celebrating for American workers.
The official unemployment rate, just released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, showed unemployment in July to be 9.1%, which is exactly the same as the rate was in June, and which is an increase from the months in the spring. But that’s not even the real picture.
Worse than the official number of unemployed is the BLS’s official number of unemployed together with those who are part-time employed, usually in marginal low-paid jobs, but who want to work full-time. That figure hit 16.2% in July. Things are likely to get worse, though, because the BLS also reported at the same time that in August, no net new jobs were added in the U.S. -- the first time the new jobs figure was zero since 1945.
But even that is only part of the story of the miserable economic situation facing American workers. The BLS doesn’t even count people who have stopped trying to find a job because they’ve tried for so long unsuccessfully that they have realized the effort is pointless. Many of these are people who are now staying home, perhaps helping to raise children. Many others have decided to retire earlier than planned (and earlier than they can afford to). Adding these people to the mix raises the unemployed rate to 17.7%
The Gallup polling organization, which uses a different methodology to count the unemployed, found the total of unemployed and under-employed in August to be 9.1 and 9.4 percent respectively, or a total of 18.5%. That is up 0.5% from 18.0 percent in Gallup’s July survey.
All of these numbers still don’t tell the real story, though, but a little math can help.
According to the Census bureau, The growing US population adds roughly 2 million new workers each year. That means that the public and private sector have to create a net new 150,000 jobs each month just to keep up with the number of new people entering the work force. In fact, though, we haven’t seen a month with 150,000 new jobs in years, and in fact, over the last decade the U.S. has lost a net 3.4 million jobs.
In all, if you add up the 14.6 million people officially counted as unemployed, the 5.9 million who have given up trying to find a job, and the 8.5 million who are working part-time involuntarily, that gives us 30 million people who are desperate.
Remember, there are 310 million Americans, but many of them are under 18 or are in college or the military, are too disabled to work, or are over 65 and are no longer in the labor force. So that means that actually there are only 153 million in the labor force, so the real unemployment rate is is 19.6 percent, or approximately one in five working-age Americans.
No wonder that Gallup also found that 30 percent of Americans say that they are worried about becoming unemployed themselves. Remember, those worried people are folks who are still working, so they’re on top of the 20 percent who don’t have to worry about losing jobs because they are already out of work.