The Most Revolutionary Act

Diverse Ramblings of an American Refugee

Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall

Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall
New Plymouth, New Zealand
December 02
Retired psychiatrist, activist and author of 2 young adult novels - Battle for Tomorrow and A Rebel Comes of Age - and a free ebook 21st Century Revolution. My 2010 memoir The Most Revolutionary Act: Memoir of an American Refugee describes the circumstances that led me to leave the US in 2002. More information about my books (and me) at


SEPTEMBER 25, 2012 5:10PM

19%: the True Unemployment Number

Rate: 8 Flag
Brother, Can You Spare a Job?
The job line

A recent Wall Street Journal opinion piece by Mortimer Zuckerman, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of US News and World Report, indicates the true US unemployment rate is 19%, when you include the people who have given up and quit looking for work and the involuntary part-timers who can’t find a full time job. He backs it up with recent numbers from the US Department of Labor. He doesn't say in so many words that the Obama administration is lying about unemployment numbers, but the implication is clear.

Mortimer also cites some other scary numbers confirming the US is experiencing – not a recession – but a modern day Depression, with a big D. He makes the interesting point that we don’t see the soup kitchens and bread lines of the 1930s because in the 21st century, the chronically jobless get checks in the mail.

  • More than 45 million Americans receive food stamps. This is 15% of the population compared with the 7.9% participation from 1970-2000. Food-stamp enrollment has been rising at a rate of 400,000 per month over the past four years.
  • A record number of Americans – more than 11 million – collect Social Security disability. Half of these beneficiaries have signed on since President Obama took office in 2009.
  • Annual wage increases have dropped to an average of 1.6%, the lowest in the past 30 years. Adjusted for inflation, wages are contracting.

Although historically US News and World Report, like the Wall Street Journal, is known conservative editorial leanings, the piece is decidedly non-partisan. It makes the telling point that changing presidents on November 7th ain’t going to solve the problem.

In fact some of the policy solutions Zuckerman proposes, which include an expansion of public and private training programs, programs to address the decay in public works and infrastructure and “special subsidies” for private employers who hire the long term unemployed, seem pretty radical when contrasted with the Republican Party’s austerity and budget cutting initiatives.

Read more here.

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55% is probably closer to it when you add in the grossly underemployed.

Even at 19%, which I believe is an underestimate, we've hit a sustained period of 4 years of unemployment numbers that come extremely close to the 25% sustained unemployment of the Great Depression.

I want my New New Deal. Fire up the WPA...shit...something.
I've been semi-retired making less than $30K a year since 1998. Fifteen years now and in two years mandatory retirement will take nearly $17K off the table, such is the nature of agism in a shrinking economy. Why pay $75/hour for a consultant with limited computer skills when you can hire another younger underemployed consultant for $50/hour?

I guess I'll start selling BBQ from a website on the internet... my own little dot com venture. I wonder if Bain Capital will front me some start-up financing?
Well here's to Zuckerman for straying from the party line.
if you are in the service economy, you don't have a 'real job'. when times are hard, you are surplus to requirements.

it might be fairer to pay people for being a citizen, with incentive pay for different levels of genuine social productivity. not that fair enters the equation in any but idle hypothesizing.
I would never trust anyone who understates a problem of human suffering.
I would think that any government, in an attempt to preserve its own image of integrity would 'plaster' over the real figures concerning unemployment. You are correct in saying that a change of presidents will do little to improve the situation; the same ship on the same course benefits little from an alternative captain. We may need something more radical, even revolutionary... to guide our ship and sail for as of yet unexplored regions of possibility.
Is there a government anywhere (or at any time) that didn't fudge the un/under-employment figures?

Here in Canada the numbers do not include:
1- Those whose unemployment insurance benefits have expired.
2- Those on social assistance
3- Those seeking their first job
4- Those who temporarily left the work-force for medical reasons (i.e. to have a baby)
5- Ex-convicts
6- Ex-military servicemen/women
7- Seniors trying to return to the work-force
8- Former small business owners who've lost their businesses.
9- Former clients of medical or mental health institutions
10 - People with part-time jobs who want full time work.

And the list goes on. A number between 25% and 35% id far more realistic.

I fear it will get worse. The student loan bubble will burst soon as there are no jobs for all the college grads. Obomney will institute greater austerity measures gutting social security, medicare, medicaid and the rest of our social safety net. The only jobs left will be fighting in wars for oil and other resources. We will continue to poison our water with fracking. Food prices are increasing and that will begin to accelerate with more droughts and severe weather with global warming. I could go on, but I'm getting depressed. Those in power know it's going to get worse. That is why they are putting into place draconian laws to imprison and murder their own citizens. The police are all to willing to serve their masters.

Resistance may be futile, but it's all we have left.
Interesting, Al, your point about not having a "real job" if your not in the service economy. After giving it a lot of thought, I have decided that working at any job is bad for your health. Now that I've liberated my lawn, I have discovered it's not really that hard to grow food for your own use. What's hard is growing enough food to sell to pay for your mortgage and your kids' braces and medicals bills. One of the things I found most interesting about A Renegade History of the United States was learning that people who have land and the ability to grow their own food have no interest in working for other people. It's only by driving them off the land that you can force them to come to work in your factories.

I think Sky and Malcolm are probably right - that the real unemployment figures are much higher. We have 19% unemployment according to Dept of Labor figures - in other words, Obama is lying about what his own numbers say.

I agree, Alaska, that things will get progressively worse. Eventually people will become as frustrated as the pre-collapse Soviets - and decided they would rather live on the street and eat out of dumpsters than continue to attend soul-destroying jobs.
My friends and I used to joke that the only thing worse than not having a job was having a job.
It's not funny anymore.
I've seen these claims elsewhere as well; I have no doubt that they're right and in some ways it may be even worse than that for many reasons. First of all I suspect that it is hard to get reliable numbers but I doubt of the administration is even trying. the unofficial numbers that sincere people are citing are almost certainly closer to the truth.

I'm sure that Alaska Progressive is right about students not having work for them when they get out of college with their enormous student loan debts. On top of that an enormous percentage of the work that is being done is for useless purposes that are designed primarily to make the rich richer without providing a benefit for the majority. One of the biggest examples is advertising jobs that are designed to sell useless products. Perhaps what also known as might mean is that "the only thing worse than not having a job was having a job" that serves no good purpose. But when it comes to advertising jobs those that can get them are often treated fairly well because they don't want celebrities exposing their scams.

Is the 19% the U-6 number? I haven't look in a long time.

My problem with the administration, well all of them of late, is that they come out with the number, the administrations run with the good news, then they amend the number. What they can't get it right the first time? That is what makes me mad. To hear the president blow his horn about how things are getting better when the number is release then say nothing when they announce they were wrong by 1/3 or more.
Good point, Catnlion. Zuckerman says U6 (which he gives as 15%) d0oesn't include the 8 million people who want full time work but haven't applied for a full time job in 6 months. He says this number is 8 million and pushes the rate up to 19%.

I'm not really sure where he gets the number from.

According to the Dept of Labor U6 doesn't include people who haven't applied for work in the last 12 mos (

I found 2 sites that do measure "long term marginally attached workers" at and John Williams' Williams estimates the true unemployment figure at 22%.
I think that in the US the unemployment problem could be solved if the huge resources used for fighting wars would be in use to build somewhat better America.
Bingo, Hannu. You know this, I know this. Everyone in their right mind knows this. The truth is the ruling elite don't give a flying f**k about creating jobs.