In order to #beheard, it is necessary to have a solid understanding of what is happening in our world. This is one of an ongoing series of posts highlighting stories we at Civic Eagle believe are worth researching and discussing.
On Wednesday, February 3rd, 2015, Jim Clifton, the CEO of Gallup, published a blog post blasting the Obama Administration, Wall Street, and the media for “cheerleading” the 5.6% unemployment rate. To many, the number was a huge relief after the dark days of 10.0% unemployment in the fall of 2009 (numbers according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). To Mr. Clifton, though, 5.6% was a “Big Lie.” Throughout his post, he outlined numerous groups of people who are jobless or in economic distress, but are not represented in the official unemployment percentage. Those who have been without a job for four weeks and are no longer looking for employment are not counted as “unemployed,” as are those who are underemployed or have part-time jobs instead of full-time positions. In December 2014, only 44% of eligible US citizens regularly work 30 hours a week and receive a paycheck.
Later that week, February 6th, the Bureau of Labor Statistics published the January jobs report. While the unemployment rate actually rose to 5.7%, economists and the media had no trouble finding good news in the report. The country added 257,000 jobs last month, and almost 1.1 million people reentered the workforce. Those who had work saw good news too, as worker salaries rose 12 cents-per-hour, the largest monthly increase since 2007. The data, according to the Washington Post, “indicates a fully firing labor market.” Economist Jeremy Lawson agreed saying, “we’re finally getting to that point where a self-sustaining recovery is going on.” Within three days, two entirely different views of the economy emerged.
It is imperative to learn about both sides of this debate in order to have a nuanced understanding of our economy and to understand what still remains to be done in order to improve it. Were Mr. Clifton’s criticisms valid? And if they were reasonable, were they addressed by the January jobs report? How important is the unemployment or underemployment rate compared to other signs of economic vitality?
Please head over to the debate section of EAGLE by Civic Eagle to listen to different views of our economy and ensure that your own ideas will #beheard. Our economy has certainly come a long way from the depths of the Great Recession, but there is still much work to be done.