Sunday, September 22, 2013

35 Million could be Unemployed in US

A long-term unemployed tech engineer, Virgil Bierschwale at www.KeepAmericaAtWork.Com, estimates that there could be as many as 35.4 million Americans unemployed (not 11.3 million as the government currently reports). He recently sent me this email:

"Last week I got turned down as not having enough experience to do the lowest level laundry job at the local VA hospital, even though I am a Navy veteran. At this point I believe we are all in agreement that the unemployment situation is much worse than the media says. The government says the unemployment rate is getting better because there are fewer people unemployed. We know that is crap because this tells us (those of us that used to make a living analyzing numbers) that millions of people are no longer being counted."

As of this post, www.Shadowstats.Com shows us that 23% of Americans are unemployed (not 7.3% as the government reports).


Counting part-time workers who want full-time work, the government is already admitting to 20 million Americans being either under- or unemployed. If we add in all those who are no longer being counted, such as "discouraged workers who dropped out of the work force" --- such as 8 million 99ers who were laid off earlier during Great Recession --- then 30+ million is very easy to believe --- and so the figure for 35.4 million being unemployed is not any stretch of the imagination at all.

In other words, the PERCENT of Americans that are currently unemployed is as high today as it was as the peak of the Great Depression (estimated at 25%), and the NUMBER of people actually unemployed is over double than what is was during the Great Depression (estimated at 15 million then and over 30 million now).

But even by using the government reported (and media parroted) U-3 unemployment rate, we still have 11.3 million Americans without jobs with only 3.7 million jobs openings (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics JOLTS report).

So why do so many people (usually Republicans and Tea Party types) still have a hard time believing that the jobless can't find jobs --- and think that the unemployed "prefer" to not work just to get "free stuff" and be on the "government dole" with "entitlements" (aka "hand-outs") and are nothing more than lazy "takers" who use drugs? What is it about simple math that all these ignorant people still refuse to understand?

Last week the Fed announced there would be no "taper" to its "stimulus --- but says it will continue its commitment to maximum employment and price stability (higher inflation). Of course, this was baloney. The Fed's stimulus is designed to boost asset prices and transfer wealth to its friends in a largely fictitious economy, or at least one that includes the bottom 99%.

Upon hearing the Fed news, the Dow reciprocated with a record high of 15,676.94 last week. In March of 2009, the Dow saw a low of 6,547.05 --- and the U.S. saw its first deflation since August 1955.

It's important to note however, as John Williams did at the time, that if CPI calculations were consistent using pre-Clinton methodology, during that time in March of 2009 inflation would have exceeded 7.2%. As of August 2013, according to SGS, inflation was 9.2% -- consistent with the experience of real people on real budgets dealing with higher rents, higher energy costs, and higher food prices.

Since 2009, we've watched 95% of all U.S. income gains go to the top 1%. The shift in net worth has been even more dramatic. Last week the Dow Jones Industrial Average was UP +9,129.89 points from the March 2009 low --- but for average workers and their economy, not much has changed --- and it actually may be much worse for many.

Current Fed/BLS figures (not seasonally adjusted):

  • Civilian Labor Force (the total of those employed and those still counted as unemployed): 155,971,000 -- up +2,243,000 from March 2009.
  • Not in Labor Force: 89,988,000 -- up +8,630,000 from March 2009.

    • That's about what the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported for job losses between the start of the recession in December of 2007 and June of 2009 when the recession "officially" ended (8.7 million)
    • That number also appears to be relative to the estimated 8 million 99ers who are no longer being counted by the government.
    • And that figure also jives with 8.1 million who were classified as "job losers" as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • There have been about 3 million students graduating from high school every single year since the Great Recession and the mass layoffs, not counting college graduates (LINK)
  • The current Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate (percent of able-bodied Americans who have jobs) 63.4%, the lowest since 1978 --- and lower than 65.4% in March 2009.
  • Shadow Government Statistics (SGS) which counts those who are also unemployed but only "marginally attached" to the labor force) Unemployment Rate: 23.3% -- up from 19.8% in March 2009.
  • Total Population, Civilian Non-Institutionalized: 311,150,514 -- up +10,413,559 from March 2009.

The middle-class has been in a long steady decline since 1979 --- driving many Americans into poverty. Now days the War on Poverty has become a war on the poor --- a war on 35 million unemployed, 47 million on food stamps, 75 million earning $27,000 a year or less (about half the labor force), and 20 million with an income below one-half of the poverty threshold. Is this what makes America so "exceptional"?

Related Post:

What Exactly is Wasteful Government Spending? - "In order to detect and eradicate wasteful government spending, we first have to define what exactly is considered wasteful."


  1. I would guess that 25% is a more reasonable estimate. But that doesn’t include those who are working for wages that can’t support them. It’s a matter of mass psychology. Government and their crony businesses and media outlets are producing a message that numbs people and produces sheep like responses. Look what happened to Occupy. The media and government had to destroy the message before it became a real threat to the message that all is well and improving. Baffle them with BS is standard policy. GOP blames the poor for America’s ills and the Democrats are unable to respond due to their spineless nature. All are in the back pockets of big money, big banks and big business.

  2. Very good article Bud. 35 million unemployed is far closer to the truth than that baloney U3 unemployment number that puts it at 11.3 million. I was on a Facebook page the other day and there was speculation the unemployed number might be as high as 40 million. Which very well could be. Both the Republicans and Democrats are lying to us.

  3. Great article Bud.

    What's also interesting is that when ObamaBush took office the official unemployment rate in Feb 2009 was 8.3% (today they say it's 7.3%) and the Shadowstats in Feb 2009 was 19.1% (today it says it's 23.3%).

    So, the government says the trend has decreased 1% as Shadowstats says the trend has increased 4.2%.

    The government is about as believable as professional wrestling.


  4. One economist says the "FTE employment rate" is 7.7 million full-time jobs below its pre-recession trend.

  5. Been there, done that. I've been reading the BLS website for 5 years. You have a blog, post something, then leave the link in a comment for the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal and let's see what other (more informed) readers have to say. I working on two more posts for the Economic Populist right now and I don't have the time to debate back and forth (as I mentioned before).