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The new “conventional wisdom” is that unemployment is almost gone. The only real problem, we often hear, is a shortage of trained workers to fill jobs that are going begging because firms cannot find enough qualified individuals.
But one of the nation’s oldest and most reputable polling organizations, the Gallup Poll, has concluded that the real unemployment rate is far higher than the “official” unemployment rate. Gallup says the real unemployment rate is 8.6%, nearly twice the "official" figure of 4.4% that the Bureau of Labor Statistics typically mentions. And real unemployment has been 8.6% or higher since the end of 2007, nearly a decade ago.
"Widely reported unemployment metrics in the U.S. do not accurately represent the reality of joblessness in America.
"For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not count a person who desires work as unemployed if he or she is not working and has stopped looking for work over the past four weeks. Similarly, the BLS does not count someone as unemployed if he or she is, for instance, an out-of-work engineer, construction worker or retail manager who performs a minimum of one hour of work a week and receives at least $20 in compensation.
"Gallup recommends using two simple metrics to track unemployment in the U.S.: Gallup Good Jobs (GGJ) and what Gallup calls the "Real Unemployment" metric from the BLS -- which combines those who are unemployed, underemployed and marginally attached to the workforce.
"Gallup created the GGJ metric based on one of its most important discoveries since its founding in 1935: What the whole world wants is a good job.
"Gallup defines a "good job" as working 30 or more hours per week for an employer that provides a regular paycheck. The GGJ metric measures the percentage of U.S. adults who have good jobs based on this definition.
"Good jobs are essential to a thriving economy, a growing middle class, a booming entrepreneurial sector and, most importantly, human development.
"Creating as many good jobs as possible should be the No. 1 priority for business and government leaders everywhere --- and GGJ and BLS Real Unemployment are the right two metrics to track good jobs."
Gallup’s highly regarded data and analysis make clear that the United States needs to implement the work-based “policy package” developed by the Community Advocates Public Policy Institute, which an independent analysis by the Urban Institute showed would reduce American poverty by 50% or more.
The policy package includes a new nationwide program that would offer unemployed adults, as well as underemployed adults, the opportunity to perform useful work in a wage-paying, subsidized Transitional Job if they cannot find paid work in an unsubsidized regular job.
It also would raise the minimum wage, expand and reform the Earned Income Tax Credit, provide all parents the same kind of help with childcare that Wisconsinites have thanks to WisconsinShares, and boost the income of impoverished adults who qualify for disability benefits or have retired on Social Security.
To truly drive down unemployment from the real unemployment rate of 8.6% to a few percentage points, Transitional Jobs are essential. To end poverty, Transitional Jobs and higher wages and a better EITC and other measures connected to work are necessary.
David Riemer is senior fellow of the Community Advocates Public Policy Institute.
Posted Feb 16, 2018
Posted Feb 2, 2018