What the Numbers Don’t Say


The unemployment numbers are out again, and officially they show that the rate of unemployment is on the decline, down to 8.2%. But an article at the Employment Spectator, begs to differ. It states that the numbers are muted because there are 164,000 fewer people looking for work, as if they just gave up. But the article doesn’t tell the whole story.

There’s more to the picture that goes unanswered. What happened to those 164,000? Did they die? Did they start their own business? Win the lottery or gain an inheritance? How do 164,000 jobless decide, “ah the heck with it, I’ll just stay home, it’s no use.” As if they can afford to just give up a job search and sit on the beach.

The article goes on to cite survey data from Barclays, which shows, that about 35 percent of the people want a job but have become so disheartened that they have stopped looking for one. I have a hard time believing it. It’s more like 164,000 people stopped collecting unemployment benefits, which is how they measure unemployment data. The numbers reflect how many people are signed up for, and receive a bi-monthly stipend from their state employment commission. But when the benefits run out, it’s gone, and so are the people who are being counted as such. That makes the rate of “official unemployment” go down. Less people are collecting, but not all found work. They’re just no longer eligible. However, they’re labeled as being disheartened and “giving up.”

In my 11 years as a professional resume writer, I have only met one person who “gave up” on finding work. He decided to work for himself after 18 months in the job search (I did not write his resume). But it’s not very common to see people just throw in the towel and give up on earning a living. Further, when small business owners close up shop, they are not eligible for benefits, even though their employees are. There’s yet another segment that’s not being counted. And I’m seeing a lot of small businesses going belly up after many successful years prior to the recession.

When I launched 1st Rate Resumes in 2000, the unemployment rate was around 4 or 5%. Jobs were easy to come by back then, and my services were not really needed. But this past year, has been my busiest yet. That tells me that people are NOT giving up, but are getting desperate. Desperate for a competitive edge for those fewer available jobs, because what worked 5 or 10 years ago, no longer does. The job market has changed. And so have strategies for re-employment.

 

Leave a comment