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How The Obama Administration is Misleading The American Public About Jobs

February 17th, 2010
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02.17.2010 (original publish date)
10.07.2010 follow up (page bottom)

How The Obama Administration is Misleading The American Public About Jobs

original article written by Net Advisor

After listening to the usual Washington rhetoric today about how the Obama stimulus has allegedly saved or created 2 million jobs, I came across some government data that was shocking.

In the latest “Employment Situation” report published (February 5, 2010) by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the headlines read:

“The unemployment rate fell from 10.0 to 9.7 percent in January, and nonfarm payroll employment was essentially unchanged (-20,000), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today” (Source: BLS.gov).

That is about as far as the government and the some parts of media want the public to read.

We are made to think that, “hmm, the unemployment situation in the economy is getting a little better than or not as bad as it was right? Wrong. It is actually worse.

What the American public will not hear as headlines are the rest of the facts that skew these government numbers to make people THINK that things are really better than they really are.

Now the data is there, but you have to dig it out of the 42 pages of sub-paragraphs and tables and do some math and your own thinking to come with a realistic picture of what the employment situation really like. This is what is misleading. Instead of telling the American public the facts (transparency?), the government buried the data in 42 pages that is not always easy reading.

Here are the facts that are in the BLS.gov report, but what we will not likely hear on TV or in the headline press.

1. Government (BLS) Report:
“The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) continued to trend up in January, reaching 6.3 million. Since the start of the recession in December 2007, the number of long-term unemployed has risen by 5.0 million” (Source: BLS.gov).

What this means:
Of all unemployed persons in the USA, 6.3 million have been out of a job for about 6 months or more. In percentage terms, the number of long term unemployed persons without work for about 6 months or more has climbed 385% since December 2007.

2. Government (BLS) Report:
“The number of persons who worked part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) fell from 9.2 to 8.3 million in January. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job” (Source: BLS.gov).

What this means:
There are 8.3 million people who want a full time job, but can’t get it, so they take a part time job. This number is also called “underemployment.”

3. Government (BLS) Report:
“About 2.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in January, an increase of 409,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior
12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey” (Source: BLS.gov).

I love the phrase, “marginally attached to the labor force.”

What this means:
‘I am looking for a job, but didn’t find it. I am marginally attached to the labor force.’ Put that on your resume and attach the BLS report as your reference.

Thus, according to BLS.gov, 409,000 American people were NOT COUNTED as being “unemployed” when in fact they had no job.

4. Government (BLS) Report:
“Among the marginally attached, there were 1.1 million discouraged workers in
January, up from 734,000 a year earlier.”

What this means:
So at least, 1.1 million Americans are NOT being counted as “Unemployed” and who really are unemployed. There were 366,000 people in this category one year ago. With a 734,000 increase in the category up from 366,000, that is a 200% increase of Americans not being counted as unemployed and who ARE really unemployed.

The Real Employment/ Unemployment Math
Now, that we have some basic employment numbers, let’s redo the government math and take the actual number of unemployed people as this is what we have:

The BLS stated, “In January, the number of unemployed persons decreased to 14.8 million.”

So start with 14.8 million people as unemployed.

Now add those who have been out of work for about 6 months or more and the government is not counting them; that’s 1.1 million more.

We can now take a baseline of unemployed person to be about 15.9 million (14.8 million plus 1.1 million).

Thus the employment number that the BLS gives us stating that, “(January 2010) non-farm payroll employment was essentially unchanged (-20,000)” is false.

The TRUTH is, the government must count all unemployment and just because people can’t find jobs, or have been out of a job for a long time, does not mean that they should not be counted.

If we take the number of “discouraged workers” (aka unemployed person not counted as being unemployed) in December 2009, that number was 929,000. (Source: BLS.gov).

The differences in those who were fully employed and no longer employed thus increased by 171,000 new people. [1.1 million (Jan2010) – 929,000 (Dec 2009)].

We can make an argument for the people who want full-time jobs but can’t get them. There are the underemployed, and count as 8.3 million. Now add unemployed (14.8 million) + not counted underemployed (1.1 million) + underemployed (8.3 million) and we get 24.2 million people to out un-or underemployed total.

Now within this math, let’s see how many jobs the government actually created in January 2010.

“In January (2010), the federal government added 33,000 jobs, including 9,000 temporary positions for Census 2010” (Source: BLS.gov)

This number is already factored in the overall employment statistics by the BLS.


Weekly Claims Report:
aka Unemployment Compensation
We could also look at the Weekly Claims Reports. These reports show the number of people who are receiving unemployment benefits (compensation aka money) from the government for not working. This is a report released by the U.S. Department of Labor, the same agency for publishing the jobs data (unemployment data or “The Employment Situation.”).

According to the Department of Labor (DOL), the latest data for week ending 02-06-2010, (reported 02-11-2010) showed the initial jobless claims decreased by 43,000 from the previous week’s revised number. However the number of new unemployment claims was still up 440,000 in the same period.

(Source: U.S. Dept. of Labor)

One could analyze this data as with the actual unemployment numbers and I’m sure questions will come up. For example, we know that unemployment benefits don’t last forever, so one may argue that the number of people who were receiving unemployment benefits who still cannot find work, and who are no longer receiving the benefits due to elapsed time of those benefits would not be counted.

We can also look at who the tax payer is financing these unemployed benefits too.

On January 23, 2010 DOL data shows that 25,878 Federal Employees are receiving unemployment benefits. So these are people who the government laid off, and are basically still on payroll thought unemployment benefits at the government level? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to have them do something productive for that work?

I have a soft spot for the veterans, so I support whatever they need for risking their lives for the rest of us.

Railroad Retirement Board
While doing this report, I came across what is called, the “Railroad Retirement Board.” I never have heard of the Railroad Retirement Board. Apparently this group currently has 12,000 currently unemployed people by the Federal Government, but are also not counted as federal workers, yet they receive government salary, benefits, unemployment compensation, and a retirement pension package, courtesy of the American tax payer.

What part of this equation can the government say that are not federal workers? The government says they are counted in a separate unemployment category. If these people are unemployed and receiving tax payer assistance, wouldn’t it make more sense to keep them in some sort of government job that produces some benefit for the tax payer? Maybe they could at least wash the trains?

What was also amazing to find is that the Railroad workers have quite an amazing trail of government benefits unlike one would ever see in the private sector.

Example:

  1. Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs)
  2. Income Tax Exemptions. (Source: Rail Road Retirement Board)

On top of that, this group seem to be very well paid when they do have a job:

In 2009 and 2010, a government Rail Road employee can earn as much as $106,800 a year.

(Source: Social Security Administration).

Then they have a funky benefit calculation such as “Bend Points.”

If the Rail Road worker got a divorce and the rail worker died, the divorced spouse is eligible to get on the bandwagon and start collecting tax payer money from their divorced and deceased spouse:

Point #8. “…the spouse or former spouse may become eligible for a divorced spouse or surviving divorced spouse benefit in his or her own right under sections 2(c)(4) and 2(d)(1)(v) of the Act (45 U.S.C. §§ 231a(c)(4), 231a(d)(1)(v)).”

(Source: United States Rail Road Retirement Board)

Read More: “General Conditions Under Which a Person is Entitled to a Railroad Retirement Widow(er)/Surviving Divorced Spouse Annuity”

(Source: United States Rail Road Retirement Board).

Didn’t President Obama Promise Transparency in his Administration?

We have shown clear evidence based on the government’s own data, that unemployed Americans are not being counted in the job reports. President Obama stated that he would promise transparency in his Administration.

“My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration.Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.”

(Source: Barack Obama, White House.gov)

The facts are that Transparency has been anything but transparent. Read more from the Cato Institute on Obama’s transparency record: (Cato Report 1), (Cato Report 2), (Cato Report 3).

Notice a key repetitive word in Obama’s promise of “Transparency.”

“Government should be transparent.”
“Government should be participatory.”
“Government should be collaborative.”

Should.

The word is that government “should,” not “will” but should be transparent, etc. We have probably used this in our own lives at times.

” I should have done my homework.”
“Officer, I should have stopped at the stop sign better.”
“I should have been there.”
“I should do this.”
“I should have bought that stock before it went up.”
“I should have voted for the other guy.”
“I should have read that mortgage contract.”

You could should all over yourself, and it still doesn’t change the fact that the word “should” is really just wishful thinking. So the question is: Is the Obama’s Transparency in government really just more wishful thinking?

The point is government and tax payer advocacy groups should be looking at ways to – WHOOOPS there’s that word again, should control the complexities of unemployment compensation and initiate some reform here, and report accurate data.

{Please advise of any broken links to government reports. Adobe pdf copies are kept on file and can be re-linked from this domain. Thank you!}

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10.07.2010 Follow up on “Transparency”

An article published by Reuters shows that the Obama Administration had overstated he jobs reports in 2009 by 902,000 people. This means that we were told that there were 902,000 more people who gains jobs in 2009,. when in fact this was false.

“The government admitted earlier this year that its count through March 2009 had overstated employment by 902,000 jobs.”

— Source: Reuters, 10-07-2010

My analysis (above) using the governments own public data discovered this back in February 2010. The government is still not counting all unemployed workers accurately.

Further Reading:

“Weather” or Not It’s Jobs, It’s Jobs
(Published 03.05.2010)

The May Jobs Report: A Mythical Bull
(Published06.05.2010)

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