unemployedOne aspect of our Western, democratic and free market societies that has always infuriated me is the demeaning manner in which our unemployed are reported. As a meaningless percentage. As I write this, US unemployment is reported at 10%. Spain? 50% of people under 27, and in my country, Switzerland’, it is a mere 3%.

But how many real, breathing, struggling and worried people do these patronising and sanitising percentages represent?

This is something that is very difficult to calculate as governments all around the world manipulate these statistics to minimise the shocking reality. In my own country, the very low percentage is quite easily exposed as a lie as the rights to be unemployed last less that 18 months. So if after this time you have not found a new job, you are no longer unemployed. Just forgotten and of course, no longer included in the unemployment statistics. So easy just to forget those who can’t feed their kids.

In the US, 10% of what number? 307 million people? Try this for size.

As of July 2011 the U6 unemployment rate is 16.1 percent. The U6 unemployment rate counts not only people without work seeking full-time employment (the more familiar U-3 rate), but also counts “marginally attached workers and those working part-time for economic reasons.” Note that some of these part-time workers counted as employed by U-3 could be working as little as an hour a week. And the “marginally attached workers” include those who have gotten discouraged and stopped looking, but still want to work. The age considered for this calculation is 16 years and over. 

As of July 2011 the U.S. unemployment rate was 9.1 (U3 Rate) percent. Source

So from reading this source, we have U1, U2 up to U6 types of unemployed. Nice to know that when you are down and out and living in the streets that government statisticians can still have fun with you while you suffer and hunt for a comfortable cardboard box to live in.

The EU is on the verge of financial and economic catastrophe, but one would be excused for thinking that everything will be rosy from the way politicians speak. As the world hears about Greek debt, Italian stupidity and French arrogance, Spain is dying. 50% of people under 27 do not have a job. But how many real people are represented in this horrid yet sanitised percentage. Out of a population of nearly 50 million, one could guess at a number. 2 million, 4 million, 7 million.

But it doesn’t matter. No government or statistician will tell you. Real numbers just upset people.

How Many People Are Unemployed?
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9 thoughts on “How Many People Are Unemployed?

  • 17/11/2011 at 3:36 pm

    The Statistics department in my college has a t-shirt. It reads,”Statistics tell you everything but the truth”. How true! :(

    • 17/11/2011 at 3:48 pm

      True Pri. Statistics, statistics and damned lies as the expression goes. Statistics can draw the conclusion that there is a correlation between road kill and the sale of school bags. Statistics can be manipulated to ‘prove’ any argument.

  • 17/11/2011 at 5:19 pm

    Nice post. I know what you mean and it gets to the point where you ‘turn off’ to politics. That’s bad too, though, because politicians really love voters who aren’t listening.


  • 18/11/2011 at 2:22 am

    Technically, the unemployment rates here in the US are far higher than even 16% would suggest.

    As John Williams of Shadowstats points out, long-term discouraged workers “…were defined out of official existence in 1994.”

    He uses something known as the SGS alternate method, with puts these workers back into the equation. Those numbers suggest an unemployment rate of 22% on average.

    The 9% number gives the uncompassionate and politically motivated sects a chance to make things out to be far rosier than they really are. The next step for all nations, is a domino-style default…beginning with nations within the Eurozone, and ending in China. America falls between the two.

    The numbers will eventually be so high, that they will make reality impossible to ignore.

  • 18/11/2011 at 3:54 am

    when the news here in Washington State report the unemployment rate they say “The Percentage of those applying for unemployment for the First time.” Seems others have spoken to the news agencies here about this so it has to be qualified. But there are still a lot of people looking for work.

  • 18/11/2011 at 10:31 am

    Here in the UK Derek, we were recently told we have 1.16 million 16-25 year olds, currently out of work. I think the current number of all ages, sexes, ethnicities runs somewhere beyond 2.7million.

    Despite the politicians paying lipservice to the unemployed, by saying they are encouraging small businesses by paying them to employ folk, nothing is happening.

    And as for those of us well past sixty…


    • 18/11/2011 at 10:52 am

      And I’m one of them, though I stop being in the age range on saturday.

      At the job centre there are so many people of my age- and not just of the type that daily mail readers ‘expect’ to be claiming benefits, but young people like me.

      I’ve been unempolyed for 8 months, and have only just started getting interviews. In january they will stop giving me benefits because I’m not poor enough. Hopefully by then I will be back in work.

      Unemployment is demoralising in a really deep way.

  • 18/11/2011 at 8:02 pm

    Hi Derek,
    Awesome post. You are so right, our government manipulates numbers constantly. And, that would be City, State and Federal. It is a travesty. We need the complete honest truth because we deserve to know what is happening to our country. And that 10% unemployment must all be in the area where I live! Thanks for sharing this subject.

  • 25/11/2011 at 2:26 am

    You don’t think that any government is going to tell you the truth, do you? C,mon! Television is a media with an agenda that spins news with one bias or the other and is refuse to give you news neutrally for you to decide on your own. They don’t think that we are smart enough to make up our own minds, I suppose. (And with the amount of Reality TV and the indifference surrounding the importance of education, they might be onto something.)

    But I digress. I believe that the numbers reported reflect the number of people collecting Unemployment Compensation and does not consider the poor saps that have collected their 99 weeks or however many it is now and then got tossed aside with a pat on the back and a salutation that included ‘good luck’. It is a horrific economy that needs to receive a ‘deflation’ to reflect the economic climate. I am desperately wondering when the brilliant minds that run the world are finally going to see this.


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