The Alchemy of Unemployment
A good way to win an argument is with logic and facts.
However, sometimes logic and facts don’t support your position. In such a case, the strategy needed to win may need to be readdressed. To wit, consider the strategy of the noble class-action lawyer: don’t tell me what the law is, tell me who the judge is.
If neither logic, nor facts, nor the judge are on your side, still more replanning may be needed. If you are a politico, you may need to (for example) blame others. Yet sometimes, in time, the people see through this as well.
When you’re losing the argument and all else fails, it is useful to redefine things. The alchemist, having failed to turn lead into gold, could still claim victory by redefining lead as to-become gold and by similarly changing the name of the metal previously known as gold to in-place gold.
In an analogous vein, consider unemployment (and consider as well as the jobs created or saved tag).
Unemployment is said to be holding steady at 8.3 percent, despite these inconvenient facts (emphasis in James Pethokoukis’ original):
1. If the size of the U.S. labor force as a share of the total population was the same as it was when Barack Obama took office—65.7% then vs. 63.9% today—the U-3 unemployment rate would be 10.8%.
2. But what if you take into the account the aging of the Baby Boomers, which means the labor force participation (LFP) rate should be trending lower. Indeed, it has been doing just that since 2000. Before the Great Recession, the Congressional Budget Office predicted what the LFP would be in 2012, assuming such demographic changes. Using that number, the real unemployment rate would be 10.4%.
3. Of course, the LFP rate usually falls during recessions. Yet even if you discount for that and the aging issue, the real unemployment rate would be 9.5%.
4. Then there’s the broader, U-6 measure of unemployment which includes the discouraged plus part-timers who wish they had full time work. That unemployment rate, perhaps the truest measure of the labor market’s health, is still a sky-high 14.9%.
The above also helps explain why inflation is said to be so low when reality suggests otherwise.
If an officeholder has promised to assume responsibility for the health and well-being of the U.S. economy which then worsens, should there be a consequence, or should we just wave off his promises as so much political pap to be ignored?