02 December 2011


Oh, the 2012 campaign has started and, once again, the Department of Labor is doing its part for the President.

DOL announced today that in November, the unemployment rate had plummeted 4 tenths of a percent to 8.6%. Just what the President needed in order to bolster his flagging performance. There was a footnote, however, that was overlooked by his hypesters:

To get to there, DOL counted 100,000 new hires (just in advance of the Christmas holiday shopping season; I wonder how long they will remain employed?) and stopped counting over 300,000 folks who have been unemployed for so long that DOL figures that they have stopped looking for work. I repeat: 300,000 unemployed people are no longer counted as unemployed because a bunch of accountants and statisticians say they no longer count.

In fact, DOL does not count 2.6 million persons who “were marginally attached to the labor force,” explaining that “[t]hese individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months, . . . ‘[but] were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.” (Emphasis added.)

So, for campaign purposes, the DOL report was good news for David Plouffe and Barack Obama. Not so good for the 300,000 and the 2.6 million, but what does that matter in the grand scheme of presidential politics?.

I have long proposed that the Department of Education is unnecessary, is a federal usurpation of what is a local responsibility, and ought to be closed, along with Energy and another one that I cannot think of right now. I may be wrong. Maybe the President, his campaign staff, and their liaisons at Labor need to go back to school to learn how to count.

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