Monday, November 21, 2011

An Inconceivable Truth: 53.9% Real U.S. Labor Participation Rate

Even if you still haven't seen the Charles Ferguson, Sony Pictures Classics documentary Inside Job, which receives an unheard of 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, we now know that we pretty much can't believe a single word out of a single mouth on Bloomberg, CNBC, or any of the financial media. So today, we shed light on one of the most potentially disruptive and disturbing measures of just how delusional the current conversation about the Job Trance has become.
The current mathematical fact is this: nearly half of all Americans, an inconceivable 46.1% over the age of 16, are non-participants in the Civilian Labor Force (CLF), today.
That's right, a 53.9% Real Labor Participation Rate means a 46.1% total jobless rate. Right now. November, 2011. Not 9%. Not even the begrudgingly acknowledged U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) U-6 measure of 16.2%, as of October, 2011. 

Nope. Not 9. Not 16. A full 46.1% of Americans over the age of 16 in America are JOBLESS, right now, and we're gonna' break it down for you in real time, right here: the almost staggeringly inconceivable truth that the current financial reporting house of mirrors is set up to distort, divert, and deceive worker ants from seeing plainly. It's not a conspiracy, it's plain old diversion and deception.

Unemployment and the Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate

When most people hear the standard headline numbers of "9% unemployment" or "16% unemployment," what do they imagine? If you're like most, those numbers might conjure a picture where 100 people live in a village and 5 villagers don't have a job. Or, when things are really bad, 16 people of the 100 don't have a job. Either way, in the worst possible case, 84 people of the 100 are in great shape (employed, anyway) so what's there to complain about, right? Things should drift back to normal any day now; certainly there is no need for drastic action like an emergency basic income act.

That's exactly what the Wall Street econo-charlatans want you to believe, and it's astounding just how well it's worked, for so long. 

So, let's get to the bottom of this supposedly simple measurement scheme. According to the U.S. BLS, the U-6 number is "a percent of the Civilian Labor Force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force." But what is this Civilian Labor Force, exactly? For that definition, we need to refer to the Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey, where we find the latest October 2011 Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate of 64.2%. 

Like every jot and tittle on this blog, don't believe me, look it up for yourself. Here's what you'll find:

Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey
Data extracted on: November 20, 2011 (10:01:11 PM)
Series Id:  LNS11300000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title: (Seas) Labor Force Participation Rate
Labor force status: Civilian labor force participation rate
Type of data: Percent or rate
Age: 16 years and over

Civilian Labor Force (CLF) Participation Rate

What does all this mean? It means that due to the exponential efficiency of information technologies and the globalization of business, the U.S. Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate has been on a rapid downhill slide for at least the past decade, resting now at 64.2%. We are a civilization far closer to a technological singularity than a return to anything even remotely resembling full employment. Pick your favorite comforting fiction, the facts remain.

In 2012 we live in a completely different kind of civilization from 1912.

To put a positive spin, as I'm keen on repeating, we are the victims of our own astronomical success. We are so productive and efficient as a post-information age society, that nearly 50% of Americans, age 16 years and over, are not among the Civilian Labor Force and never need to be, ever again. 

What we've learned is that when mainstream corporate media refer to the peripheral U-3 and U-6 measures of unemployment, they are talking about fractions of the Civilian Labor Force, a term we've never heard explained or discussed in the mainstream. Therefore, when we read of 16% U-6, that means sixteen percent of the CLF, which is 16% of 64.2%, or 0.1027. That is 10.27% of the whole, further subtracted from the 64.2%. 

64.2% CLF - 10.3% Net U6 = 53.9% Real U.S. Labor Participation
Roughly half of all Americans, 46.1% over the age of 16 are jobless, non-participants in the Civilian Labor Force, today.
I heartily invite mathematical refutation of these numbers. It can't be done. Econospin word blenders can be used to mince and chop interpretations into various viscosities of indecipherablility, but the numbers are what they are.

So, by all means, let's keep fixating on the fiction of jobs, jobs, jobs and the make believe "unemployment rate" that has increasingly nothing to do with the real lives of growing numbers of Americans living in RV's, campers, cars, and tent cities across the United States. Put another way, if this isn't the end of the Job Trance, the clarion call to all out War On Poverty, and the wake up call to an absolute National Economic Emergency, then I surely don't know what is.