Monday, March 13, 2006

Unemployment rate

Statistics on the U.S. unemployment rate show it lower than reality.  Others have pointed out that it only counts those who are actively looking for work.  Those who have gone back to school because they can't find work are not included.  Those who worked for only an hour in a month would be included in the employed category.  People working part-time who want to work full-time are counted in the employed.  People who have had careers in IT and now are working in low-wage jobs because they can't get anything else are counted with the employed.

A factor I have not seen discussed in relation to the unemployment statistics is the fact that our country has one of the highest percentages in the world of people in prison.  When someone is in prison, they are not counted in the unemployment rates.  Large numbers of prisoners means more jobs for prison guards,  construction jobs to build prisons.  They may also cause an increase in jobs for providing food for the prisoners.  When people get out of prison, I would assume they would be added to the unemployment roles until they find a job.  However, they usually have a very hard time finding a job that makes enough to support themselves, which is one of the factors that cause them to often land up back in prison, and back out of the employment statistics.  If our prison rates were comparable to those of other countries, our unemployment rates might be much higher.

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