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Time for honesty about joblessness

Feb. 14, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

One of the biggest issues with the current unemployment rate, which appears to have stabilized since September, is that it's simply inaccurate.

Despite the critical relationship between jobs and the economy, the Obama administration and the liberal media refuse to offer the truth about unemployment.

After all, which is more important: the economy of a nation or the legacy of Barack Obama?

In reality our nation's unemployment rate is much higher. But some crafty techniques for measuring unemployment allow the government to report a number that is not only misleading, but unfair to unemployed workers in terms of addressing the issue.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides a 4-quarter moving-average analysis based on six measures of unemployment. Unfortunately, the only data ever disseminated to the public via the White House is the "official concept" of unemployment, or "U-3" measurement, which includes all jobless persons who are available to take a job and have actively sought work in the last four weeks.

The Obama administration's "jobs progress" is further embellished by tagging each labor report with the number of "jobs created," falsely painting a rosy picture of an economy on the rebound.

But no one ever mentions the declining work force which offsets the jobs equation.

According to January's BLS report, the U-6 measurement of unemployment, which includes the "discouraged workers" who have dropped out of the labor force, averaged 14.6 percent in 2012!

The report also disclosed that the number of long-term unemployed, or those jobless for 27 weeks or longer, is now at 4.7 million or 38.1 percent of the total unemployed -- the highest level since World War II.

Now one might feel compelled to criticize folks for leaving the work force when they're capable of working. But in fairness, our government has created an unemployment nightmare in which many people are being economically forced into relying upon the government for sustenance.

For many families with an unemployed wage-earner, the road back to employment is very problematic. As good-paying jobs become less available, many find themselves dependent upon some form of government assistance along with lengthy stints of unemployment which make them less attractive to potential employers.

Once locked into the system, our government accommodatingly "assimilates" the individual into a world that offers no "stairway" back to the workforce. Wage earners are forced into making a decision to either remain on government assistance or take a drastic financial hit upon re-entering the job market in what might be a lower-paying entry level job that doesn't fully meet the financial needs of the family.

Relying on the government isn't where most families want to be. But until quality jobs become available, viable options are limited.

While real families have real-life struggles, President Obama assures Americans he is working "tirelessly" to create jobs while leveraging false indicators that buffer the enormity of the issue.

This self-serving, disingenuous approach to leveling with the American people falls way short of addressing the problem for many aspiring families.

It's time for some intellectual honesty and real solutions to unemployment.

Mark Caserta is a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

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