On June 5, Trump proclaimed unemployment was falling thanks to his effort to “reopen” the economy, regardless of health risks. But contrary to Trump, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which estimates unemployment every month, reported that the figure Trump announced wasn’t reliable. The BLS said that their statistical methods for estimating unemployment are not structured to take account of everyone laid off as a consequence of COVID. In fact, other methods for measuring current joblessness indicate that unemployment went up in May, probably by at least three percent, reaching 20 percent, a record not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. But, of course, that didn’t stop Trump, who will say and do anything he thinks will bolster his plummeting political prestige.
Well before COVID, ordinary people knew from personal experience that government statistics have always understated unemployment, for example, by failing to count people as unemployed after they’ve given up looking for jobs paying a decent wage.
As the current crisis turns into a deep, long-term recession, it will be hard to convince anyone that jobs are coming back on their own. We don’t need to spend time puzzling out what’s wrong with the unemployment statistics. Instead, workers need to start discussing how to force the system to give us jobs or income now.
featured image credit: Wikimedia Commons