In today’s toxic political environment, facts often take a back seat to bluster, and many even cringe at and reject good news simply because the “other party” occupies the White House. One such common sense-defying factoid I often see and hear is that there are “100 million-plus” unemployed or out of work people in the United States, so that means real unemployment must be over 40 percent, not the reported 5 percent.
In truth, at any given time in history 30-plus percent of the population is not working. They are for the most part called children, stay-at-home moms or dads and retired senior citizens.
Currently, there are 80 million U.S. citizens under the age of 19 and another 40 million over the age of 65. So yes, there are 100 million-plus U.S. citizens not working — but unless you are inclined to classify grade schoolers as unemployed, which, embarrassingly, some news outlets do, you’ll see that people not working are much different than people who are classified unemployed or out of work.
Additionally, for the steadfast good news deniers who lean on the labor participation rate (LPR) to bolster their view, the number of non-workers is indeed increasing, thus resulting in a lower LPR. This is principally due to an increase in life expectancy and the surge in the baby-boomers of the 1940s and 1950s now coming of retirement age and thus leaving the work force to enjoy their retirement years.
So today’s real unemployment, which has been calculated the same way for decades, is around 5 percent. In this case, good news is really good news.
Sound View Drive