Continuing Unemployment and Worse
By Fr. Fred Kammer, SJ
The stock market is soaring to set new records. CEOs are taking home bundles of cash, stock options, and rich severance packages. Wall Street is handing out million dollar bonuses again. Congress and state legislatures seem to find no tax cut unpalatable. And big tech firms like Apple acquire smaller ones like Tumblr for a billion dollars. What is the matter with this rosy picture? Unemployment.
The “official” unemployment rate for April 2013 was 7.5 percent, representing 11.7 million persons, of whom 4.4 million have been unemployed for at least six months. This does not include people who simply have given up looking for work or those working part-time who want to work full-time. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) puts the total of “labor underutilization” at 14.5 percent, almost double the official unemployment rate.
We can understand the different kinds of “unemployment” by looking more closely at the statistics for the five Gulf South states in four categories used by BLS. The figures are drawn by BLS from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, augmented with other data, based on averages over the twelve months ending in March 2013.