Channel 19

Todd Dills

Real unemployment rate: 14%

| August 08, 2013

Monthly, we report on the trucking-jobs numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The reports are routine but interesting in their month-to-month variance, given that they can tend to show trends in conditions improvement — or, of course, the reverse — in the company-trucking market, generally an indicator that tracks with the wider economy. More jobs in trucking, better economic conditions on the way. 

Leo Hindery

Leo Hindery

But checking out the report that was issued a week ago today, I was reminded of this story by Steve Clemons, which I came across on The Atlantic’s business site a few weeks back. The “Deception in Counting the Unemployed” story told the tale of Leo Hindery, a “former CEO of cable firm TCI, then AT&T Broadband, Global Crossing, and the Yankee Entertainment Sports Network,” Clemons writes, who objects to the way the BLS tracks the unemployment rate. Some radio reports tend today to point out the unknown number of people who have “stopped looking for work” not being reflected in the rate, for instance — that’s Hindery’s efforts to get reporters, pundits and policy idea folks to “abandon discussion of ‘official unemployment’ rates to ‘real unemployment’ figures.” 

Hindery routinely releases his own rebuttal to the official numbers when they come out, and at the end of Clemons’ piece in the Atlantic, the writer invited interested parties to get in touch with him on Twitter (@SCClemons) or via email (sclemons @ if they wanted to receive Hindery’s monthly “real unemployment report.” I did, and I got July’s, which you can find via Clemons’ Washington Note blog here.

Upshot: If you consider those working part-time out of necessity (they can’t find full-time work) and those “marginally attached” (those who have given up searching for work), the unemployment rate didn’t decline in July to the 7.4 percent officially noted, but rather Hindery’s Real Unemployment Rate fell to 14 percent from 14.3 percent in June. (In June Hindery’s number rose while the official number was steady.)

While freight in some quarters has been looking up, as I reported on in this story today, I don’t know about you, but Hindery’s sounds like a more realistic rate, given all that I’ve seen around me the last few years. What do you think?   

  • lfhpueblo

    I believe his numbers are more realistic. Part-time jobs that people hold, who really wish they had a full time job to keep up with the costs of living and paying down the debt they incurred while unemployed, to me is not really being employed at all. Some say well go get two or three part time jobs, but what they don’t realize is that often the employers of the various part time jobs won’t work with you on your assigned hours, so that you may indeed hold more than one part time job at a time. Often the assigned hours will conflict, or if you get a couple of part time jobs and one boss calls and tells you unexpectedly that he/she has to change your hours around and if you don’t because of the other part time job you’re holding, they’ll just up and fire you because you’re not a so-called team player. How can you be a team player for any part-time job if you’re holding more than one. You’re just juggling to have commute time to each because often they are not located close to each other, juggling you have time to get kids to a sitter, or home to an older sibling that is old enough to babysit, or to get them to or back from school. Then there is always the problem of finding sitters that will watch your kids in a split shift fashion or at night time hours if that is what you are assigned to work. I believe he is more on mark then the government with the real figures of unemployment. Granted in the long haul drivers life this may not be the problem, but often in the non-truckers life it is. There are a lot of single parents out there, and I’m not just talking women. I know my husband struggled for two years before we met. He was a single father, trying to have a job where he could get his son to and from school. It is so sad so many children once again have to be latch key kids because parents don’t have the income to have any other choice.

  • martymarsh

    Well said, the government thinks we are as smart as a box of hammers.

  • Life With No Fixed Address

    Unemployed workers are being hidden to keep the official numbers down. This American Life recently did a program on the number of older Americans, meaning Plus 50, who receive Disability payments through Social Security. They are being flipped over to this program because they can’t find a job and likely won’t find a job in this new technological, robotized economy. These are people who still need to work, would prefer to work, but cannot find work but still need to live. So they are not counted in the official unemployed. Once they reach the age to collect Social Security they moved to that side of the program. The new disappeared.
    The official rate does not square with what I see traveling across the country.

  • MillionOfMiles

    Great article Todd. Like so many other “stats and figures” we’re spoon-fed from Washington, the official unemployment numbers reported have always been a joke. I know many 50+ year olds who can’t find work – even flipping burgers…

  • John

    What is really sad is that voters re elected our President knowing he did very little to spur job growth and now we are complaining about it? Lack of good job creation is at the core of America’s problems and yet I hear so little from anyone in Washington talking about this? Yet, the liberal news media spends so little time and effort making it a news story either?
    I do not care what political party your affiliated with. The fact that we STILL have this kind of real unemployment is a terrible thing and one wonders how severe our next economic depression will be considering the length of time this recovery is taking?

  • localnet

    CNS News noted of the February 7.7% unemployment rate: “The number of Americans designated as ‘not in the labor force’ in February was 89,304,000, a record high… according to the Department of Labor.” The economic trend-monitoring site InvestmentWatch concluded that the actual American unemployment rate — one that includes all unemployed — is around 30%. The site reasoned that “89 million not in the labor force = 29%, give or take, assuming the US population is 310,000,000 + official unemployment 7.7%.”

  • Eclod

    I’m 57. I lost a $70,000 a year job in 2008. I have been sending out 5 resumes a day and applying to 3-4 jobs online. I’ve had 5 horrible part time jobs from 2008 to date (8-12-2013). I don’t expect to ever have a full time job again the way this regime is running the country into the ground and the way the Media fails to report it. I’m totally hopeless. This used to be a great country.

  • jr023

    lost my job as a lab driver co decided to use independent contractors same exact job but 100% expenses to driver look at the offer using a 4 cy truck i owned the net would be about $6.00 hr before tax and i found out 6 months later the co sold and murged with nat lab no more independents. but the market was bad did not find steady work my back got real bad and i can barely walk now ss says because i had a period of unemployment i cannot collect and i do not have good medical records because i could not pay drs .so i have to fend for 2 yrs to get ss at 62 if the rules do not get changed again but i am not considered unemployed in my opinion at least in fl our rate was 30% at the peak and about 18% now strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.