Thursday, April 25, 2013

Paul Solman — Will We Ever Get to 'Full Employment'?

When we talk about "full employment" of 4 percent (or even 6 percent) these days, do we mean the same thing we used to back when?
The answer is no. The government has changed the way it measures unemployment and as a result, some Americans who used to be counted as officially unemployed no longer are -- because they haven't looked for work recently enough. That's why I devised our monthly U-7 statistic, which includes everyone who says they want to be working full-time, but aren't. Compared to the official unemployment number of 7.6 percent, U-7 is running at 16 percent.
There's another significant difference between official unemployment today, compared to that statistic years ago. As we explained in a story back in 2003, many more Americans are now on either disability or in prison than in previous years. Were they out on the street looking for work, today's official unemployment number, as well as our "Solman Scale" U-7, would be several percentage points higher than they are.
PBS NewsHour — Business Desk
Will We Ever Get to 'Full Employment'?
Paul Solman

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