Thursday, December 29, 2011

The unemployed didn't just "drop out"

...they were pushed out of the labor force.

In a New York Times article today, titled Instead of Work, Younger Women Head to School, the author writes "Workers are dropping out of the labor force in droves, and they are mostly women."

The author goes on to say "These young women seem to be postponing their working lives to get more education. There are now — for the first time in three decades — more young women in school than in the work force." The article never mentions how many of these young women might have turned to prostitution and/or are working in strip clubs to survive...or to put themselves through school.

Lawyer turns topless dancer to pay the bills: How many have already graduated from school but still can't find work? Hard times push more women to strip clubs: "Among the usual aspiring actresses and dancers, there are more college students, single mothers trailing toddlers, health and office professionals and even a few age-defying grandmothers — all looking for well-paid work."

And how many are coping with the recession by growing and selling pot?

First of all, people don't voluntarily "drop out of the labor force" as the Bureau of Labor Statistics claim. They are just no longer counted after a certain amount of time after their unemployment benefits expire (labeled as "discouraged workers") The New York Times article just helped to perpetuate the myth that unemployed people just "turn on, tune in, and drop out".

Once someone's unemployment runs out, there's no place where one goes to sign in every week to show that they're still actively looking for work. After a certain amount of time the Bureau of Labor Statistics just arbitrarily makes the assumption they "gave up looking for work". But how could the BLS possibly know who's still looking for work and who was evicted and living in a homeless shelter? The BLS just bases their conclusions on who's exhausted all their unemployment benefits.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics denies this, saying they do not get any data from the state's unemployment offices (and rely on bogus household surveys), but yet the BLS posts the exact numbers of those who are receiving state and federal benefits in their monthly reports (subject to change every month when updated).

Secondly, only those who once had a two-income family (like a husband and wife, with one that's employed and earning enough to pay for food, rent, auto loans, car insurance, and school tuition) can the scenario that this article presents be possible. Or maybe the young women who are going to school also live at home with their parents, and they pay for their school and living expenses. Or maybe they work in a strip club.

But they didn't just "drop out" of the labor force, like kids "drop out" of high school. This maligns the unemployed as quitters or failures. As if they "dropped out of society", or voluntarily quit an assigned task, or failed at completing something. As if they were "losers".

In the real world, when some loses their only source of income, they look for a job to pay for food and shelter, unless they have the luxury and good luck to have someone else pay for their living expenses. They don't just "drop out" and casually return to college to improve their jobs skills.

American society has always maligned those who lost jobs and couldn't find employment through no fault of their own: “Three or four million heads of households don’t turn into tramps and cheats overnight, nor do they lose the habits and standards of a lifetime. They don’t drink any more than the rest of us, they don’t lie any more, and they’re no lazier than the rest of us. An eighth or a tenth of the earning population does not change its character which has been generations in the moulding, or, if such a change actually occurs, we can scarcely charge it up to personal sin.” – Harry Hopkins, Federal relief administrator under Franklin D. Roosevelt – 1933

The New York Times article today also says "412,000 young women have dropped out of the labor force entirely in the last two and a half years", but how can that be? Almost two and a half years ago in October of 2009 15.7 million Americans were unemployed when the unemployment rate was 10.2%. Only 412,000 young women are unemployed today?

And since then, all those people have already exhausted all unemployment benefits that they may have once been entitled to and qualified for - - - so most are no longer being counted. Since October of 2009 only 3 million jobs were created, and many more people have been laid off since that time. And now 7.2 million are currently receiving either state or federal benefits.

Also, since October of 2009 six million young people have already graduated from high school or college (not counting drop-outs), and most are still not finding jobs - - but instead, many are participating in Occupy protests.

The number in that New York Times article today is way out of line with reality. And to call them "drop outs" is disrespectful.

Break down:

  • Nearly 18 million Americans have at some point received federally funded extended unemployment benefits since 2008.
  • In October of 2009 the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the national unemployment rate was at 10.2% with 15.7 million Americans out of work.
  • In May of 2010 there were 10 million receiving either state or federal UI benefits.
  • In December of 2011 we have 7.2 million who are currently receiving either state or federal benefits, and 13.3 million are current being reported by the BLS as being unemployed.
  • Almost a total of 18 million received UI benefits and 6 million Americans also graduated from high school and college in the last two and half years, but only 3 million jobs were created.

Related Posts:

Where did 15 million jobless Americans go?

Simple Math Proves Jobs Report a Lie


  1. "The number of people seeking unemployment benefits for the first time rose last week to 381,000."

    * They will be counted by the BLS because they are applying for UI benefits, and they will stop being counted by the BLS shortly after all their weeks of UI benefits expire.

  2. "Economists estimated that 150,000 jobs were that rate of hiring, the economy can absorb the natural increase in the labor force. The U.S. will need to gain an average of about 250,000 jobs 'each month over several years' to reduce the unemployment rate to pre-recession levels.

  3. The two-month extension of the payroll tax break may be the end of 99 weeks for UI benefits, phasing out at least 20 weeks.