800,000 Furloughed Federal Employees Vs. 11 Million Unemployed Americans

If you dare try to downplay the government “shutdown,” expect some people to comment about how it’s really been bad for their family. They’ll tell you that they have a brother-in-law who works for the Department of Defense, and he’s one of the 800,000 federal employees who are being furloughed while Congress plays their political games. They’ll tell you that their brother-in-law is now struggling to put food on the table for his kids or to pay his rent or buy a big screen TV. Just tell them that their brother-in-law can join the rest of the unemployed in this country thanks to the failure of central economic planning.

Of course, the big difference between those who are unemployed in the private sector due to a poor economy and a bunch of furloughed government workers is that when the shutdown is over, the federal employees go back to work and get paid retroactively. So they might have to put the big screen TV purchase off by a week or two. But as for the 11 million Americans that are currently unemployed, well, government shutdown or not, they’re out of work with no benefit of back pay:

“The Bureau of Labor Statistics said there were 155,486,000 people, age 16 and over, who made up the civilian labor force in August. For that month, which is the latest data available, only 144,170,000 were employed in the United States. That difference equals the 11,316,000 unemployed. As for those people not participating in the labor force, the BLS defines that as people, age 16 or older, who have not sought a job in the last four weeks. That number was 80,507,000 when Obama took office in 2009. It is now 90,473,000, an increase of 9,966,000. The 800,000 people furloughed by the government is 0.8% of those Americans who are not in the labor force.”

So, during Obama’s tenure, 10 million people have decided to stop looking for work altogether for a total of 90 million people “not participating in the labor force.” They may or may not have any hope of ever getting a well-paying job. And another 11 million are considered unemployed.

But the federal employees all have a job to go back to when this silly game is over and they’ll get paid for the time they spent at home during the shutdown. I don’t think it’s a fair comparison.

And one more thing. Only the “non-essential” government components are being “shut down.” If they’re non-essential, why do they exist in the first place?