Listening to Gallup's Jim Clifton last night on CNBC (of all possible news outlets) one cannot help but notice how deftly the US and Japan, both Keynesian madhouses for longer than anyone's wildest imagination could predict, have been exporting the "right" kind of deflation - the one that you don't take notice of by parsing your supermarket bills, or utility invoices, but rather by looking at how much your generation and the next are really making in terms of net income versus recurring expenses, with strong emphasis on the fiscal tab, specially when compared to the ever burgeoning bureaucratic class.
“I think that the number that comes out of BLS [Bureau of Labor Statistics] and the Department of Labor is very, very accurate. I need to make that very, very clear so that I don’t suddenly disappear. I need to make it home tonight.”
“Right now, we’re hearing much celebrating from the media, the White House and Wall Street about how unemployment is ‘down’ to 5.6%. The cheerleading for this number is deafening. The media loves a comeback story, the White House wants to score political points and Wall Street would like you to stay in the market.
“None of them will tell you this: If you, a family member or anyone is unemployed and has subsequently given up on finding a job — if you are so hopelessly out of work that you’ve stopped looking over the past four weeks — the Department of Labor doesn’t count you as unemployed. That’s right. While you are as unemployed as one can possibly be, and tragically may never find work again, you are not counted in the figure we see relentlessly in the news — currently 5.6%. Right now, as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work or severely underemployed. Trust me, the vast majority of them aren’t throwing parties to toast ‘falling’ unemployment.
“There’s another reason why the official rate is misleading. Say you’re an out-of-work engineer or healthcare worker or construction worker or retail manager: If you perform a minimum of one hour of work in a week and are paid at least $20 — maybe someone pays you to mow their lawn — you’re not officially counted as unemployed in the much-reported 5.6%. Few Americans know this.
“Yet another figure of importance that doesn’t get much press: those working part-time but wanting full-time work. If you have a degree in chemistry or math and are working 10 hours part time because it is all you can find — in other words, you are severely underemployed — the government doesn’t count you in the 5.6%. Few Americans know this.”
Now think of Portugal, where in some municipalities the State sector accounts, directly or not-so-directly, for 80% of all jobs and contracts.
Throw in the fact that many people can only be described as underemployed, be them
a) "independent workers" - that infamously sacrificed group of dangerous self-entrepreneuring citizens who see their irregular pay more than halved in order to comply with mandatory, state-regulated minimum down payments for income tax and social security (even if, in practical terms, no protection is provided, with people dying in droves in broad daylight at public hospital emergency wards or going without seeing a dentist for the entirety of their lifetime) regardless of their possible contributing for private welfare and pension plans, or
b) functionally illiterate, however formally qualified, hordes of youngsters (a term broadly redefined year over year to accomodate now everyone under 40 and living with their parents) shuffling around for 2 hour-a-day "trainee jobs"
And finally, add to an already spicy mix (the joy and appeal of Mediterranean havens where every Brit and Scandinavian expat would love to finish their days - provided they didn't have to work, commute or drive, earn a keep and pay taxes here) a colossal 50% of unreported long-term "inactive job seekers", aka job unseekers, that will never again appear on any must-read statistical spreadsheet for Brussels.
America, Greece and Portugal are pretty much converging. Guess the common political denominator between all three - and France, if you want.
Any claims by government officials about falling unemployment, recovery and growth - present or future - are nothing more than that: claims by government officials.