Don’t Believe the September Unemployment Rate

The best way to determine how deeply someone understands a political issue is to push them outside their talking points. Most people who claim to be politically active have a set of standard talking points to which they cling. This characteristic is not limited to Democrats. People don’t like to know more than they have to. This mentality, however, leads to ignorance.

Case in point: Unemployment. The unemployment rate currently sits at 5.1 percent, which is considered pretty fantastic by anyone’s measure. That’s the best unemployment number since May, 2008. The Obama administration has taken credit for this alleged decline in unemployment. I say “alleged” because once you dig a bit deeper, you find out pretty quickly just how unreliable this frequently touted number is.

In October of 2009—during the height of the recession—the unemployment rate was 10%. Given this, one could reasonably argue that unemployment has been cut in half under Obama. Ask any one of your liberal friends about unemployment, and they will likely brag about Obama’s recovery. But have we really recovered?

There’s a second set of numbers called the “civilian employment-population ratio” (CEPR) that more accurately measures the employment situation in the United States.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) defines the civilian employment-population ratio as:

“The proportion of the civilian noninstitutional population aged 16 years and over that is employed.”

This number crashed when the economy crashed in 2008. In October, 2009, the CEPR was 58.5, down from a pre-recession high of 63. Now that the unemployment number has been cut in half, shouldn’t the CEPR have followed suit? Nope. The CEPR for September was 59.2.

This is because the unemployment number we’re all used to is deeply flawed. Once someone gives up looking for work entirely, they are no longer counted as “unemployed.” As more and more people give up looking for work, the unemployment rate actually goes down. Insanity.

Breitbart reports:

“…a record 94,610,000 people (ages 16 and over) were not in the labor force in September. In other words, they were neither employed nor had made specific efforts to find work in the prior four weeks.”

The 5.1% unemployment rate is a farce. We haven’t recovered as much as we believe. Next time your liberal friend or family member tries to sell you the 5.1% unemployment rate, ask them about the civilian employment-population ratio. It’s a simple thing, but because it’s off-script, their talking points won’t work. Then watch them melt under the spotlight.

Numbers don’t always tell the whole truth.