Government math takes on many forms. I think it’s the basis for Common Core math. In Common Core, 2 plus 2 plus 2 doesn’t always equal 6. Just like 18% of employable people in the U.S. equals a 5.9% unemployment rate.

The 5.9 %number is usually arrived at by simply looking at how many Americans file for unemployment every week, both new and continuing claims. You hear about the numbers of people dropping off the rolls but you never hear why. The assumption is that they found a job.

Do you ever hear them report about the number of people who drop off the unemployment rolls because they ran out of time? Or the ones who got discouraged and gave up looking because they couldn’t find employment. What about the ones who switch to disability because they are now having physical and mental issues as a result of their job search? (Insert crickets sound here.)

Most economists use another set of numbers that the government Bureau of Labor Statistics calls “U-6.” It defines the “total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of all civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers.”

This number takes into account, by that definition, the underemployed, discouraged, and unemployed workers. This number actually did fall for the first time below 12% to 11.8%. Hey, don’t get too excited yet.

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