Wednesday, December 15, 2010

American unemployment

The New York Times has a somewhat accurate portrayal of the situation in this op-ed.

But then again, some of their statistics fail to give us a clear idea of the American economy or the desperation experiencd by millions of American workers. The article tells us that the pay of the median college-educated male is $72,000, but I bet you anything that does not include the millions of college-educated males in America who are no longer counted as working unless they are still counted as unemployed (actively looking for work within the last 6 or 9 months). But discouraged males, willing house husbands, college-educated men who have been "bought" off the rolls with disability, as well as our imprisoned, mentally ill, couched at Mom's, or drunk in older sibling's basement are not counted.

For women, this median is only $52,000, so yes, they most likely experience greater want than men (on average). But again, all the same factors are in play. Not counted? For example, married women with college degrees who might like to work but have become "discouraged workers" or stay-at-home Moms because no one beyond Starbucks and the local collections agency seem to be hiring. So they have accepted not being in the workforce although to call this a "choice" is deceiving.

Another group of workers who just recently rallied to raise the false medians would be Temple University's adjunct faculty, who by trying to protect themselves, lost their employment. Presumably, we'll have to wait 6 or 9 months until they are no longer counted in the employment statistics, but once they and their below-the-median salaries disappear (no, not in the Stalinist sense), we can all rest easy knowing that median American income is on the rise.

If the major American newspapers can not be counted on to give reliable and accurate pictures of American employment, is it any wonder that their employees are also increasingly fortifying the false medians of American employment statistics through layoffs and attrition?

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