The Real Unemployment Rate

Abbott & Costello Take on the Real Unemployment Rate
Director Barry Levinson imagines how the famous comedic duo might tackle unemployment statistics

By Barry Levinson

Unemployment as reported is at 8.3 percent. But it’s actually over 16 percent. Some smart statistician came up with a distinction, a slight of hand to make the unemployment number tolerable rather than frightening. The concept was simple: 8.3 percent are unemployed and are actively looking for work. The 16 percent includes those who gave up and are no longer actively looking for work. So those casualties are no longer counted. They cease to exist.

Unemployed men queued outside a depression soup kitchen opened in Chicago by Al Capone, 02-1931 - NARA - 541927
Unknown or not provided / Foter

The 8.3 percent is a fake, a sham, and worthy of an Abbott and Costello routine. If that great comedy team were still alive, the routine on our unemployment woes might go something like this:

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