According to Broader Unemployment Figures 17% of Americans are Jobless
By Kevin Anthony Stoda
According to early reports this October, "The government's broader measure [of unemployment], known as the 'U-6' for its data classification, hit 17% in September, 0.2 percentage points higher than August."
According to the Wall Street Journal report on September statistics in the USA, "Most forecasters expect the official unemployment rate to top 10% by the end of this year, and the broader rate could easily top 18%. For people in this group, comparisons to the Great Depression (when 25% of Americans were out of work) may not look so wild even if overall economic activity is holding up better."
One critique of the Wall Street Journal article wrote as follows, "If you add the long term unemployed and many people who are just unreachable for polling, the Bureau of Labor Statistical methods has it's limits and constraints. Real unemployment is easily in the neighborhood of 20%. The economy moves on but many in the US population have been locked out of work and prosperity. This is the major marker or characteristic of the 1929 Depression (1929-1945)."
I am not nearly that pessimistic.
I do, however, firmly believe that this current depression (recession if you will) is already worse than the one faced in the early Reagan era--1981 to 1984. In those years, it was hard for college-student-aged and high-school-aged persons in the USA to find work, too, but not as difficult as it was in the summer of 2009. (I was one of those students in the 1980s who was affected in my job searches but I found seasonal work. From what I see now, it is even harder to even come up with seasonal part-time work according to USA summer jobless rates among young peoples.)
The difference between 1983 and now is that more sectors and counties of America are affected than then. The rustbelt states were taking it more on the chin than the rest of the USA back then. In 1983, 40-plus percent of the black male population in urban centers like Chicago could not get work.
However, now in 2009, many more regions--including rural, semi-urban, and urban demographic regions around America are running real unemployment (beyond the U-6 indicator) between 20 and 45%. These figures would include many independent contractors, who are not controlled for in government figures to date.