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At 8:30AM EST this morning, the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) will, once again, attempt to deceive us in their efforts to maintain the quickly evaporating "national calm," when they announce that our nation's unemployment rate is, most likely, somewhere between 7.9% and 8.1%.

We'll also be told (actually, we're already being told) by the MSM that: "U.S. February Job Losses May Have Been Largest in Six Decades."

 U.S. February Job Losses May Have Been Largest in Six Decades
By Bob Willis

March 6 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. economy probably lost more jobs in February than at any time since 1949...   ...Employers cut payrolls by 650,000 and the unemployment rate probably surged to a 25-year high of 7.9 percent, according to the median estimates in a Bloomberg News survey ahead of the Labor Department figures...   ...The report is due at 8:30 a.m. in Washington. Economists' estimates ranged from payroll declines of 500,000 to 800,000. Forecasts for the jobless rate, which climbed to 7.6 percent in January, ranged from 7.8 percent to 8.1 percent.

The projected drop in employment last month would be the biggest since a slump of 834,000 in October 1949, when about 500,000 steel workers went on strike demanding better pension and health-care benefits.

3.6 Million

The economy lost 598,000 jobs in January, bringing the total drop in employment since the recession began in December 2007 to 3.6 million, the most of any downturn since 1945...

As many who've been reading these blogs in the past few months now realize, the numbers the government's referencing are the highly-publicized "U.3" numbers, one of six sets of statistics--and the ones that are the focus of most/all press coverage here in the U.S.--published by our government every month.

The reality is that these "U.3" statistics are, for all intents and purposes, meaningless. What matters is the "U.6" report. Here's why (NOTE: This quote is from 4-1/2 years ago), courtesy of John Williams over at his Shadow Stats website:

Employment and Unemployment

August 24th, 2004

A Series Authored by Walter J. "John" Williams

"Employment and Unemployment Reporting"
(Part Two in a Series of Five)

August 24, 2004

...The popularly followed unemployment rate ... is known as U-3, one of six unemployment rates published by the BLS. The broadest U-6 measure ... [includes] discouraged and marginally attached workers.

Up until the Clinton administration, a discouraged worker was one who was willing, able and ready to work but had given up looking because there were no jobs to be had. The Clinton administration dismissed to the non-reporting netherworld about five million discouraged workers who had been so categorized for more than a year. As of July 2004, the less-than-a-year discouraged workers total 504,000. Adding in the netherworld takes the unemployment rate up to about 12.5%.

The Clinton administration also reduced monthly household sampling from 60,000 to about 50,000, eliminating significant surveying in the inner cities. Despite claims of corrective statistical adjustments, reported unemployment among people of color declined sharply, and the piggybacked poverty survey showed a remarkable reversal in decades of worsening poverty trends.

Williams continues to explain that, before Clinton left office,  the administration did reestablish the monthly household sampling at 60,000, however.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' published "U.6" unemployment rate through January, 2009, was 14.0%, including restated revisions to January's numbers over the past few weeks, as well.  

Without hyperbole, it is safe to say that the BLS' U.6 numbers through the end of February, 2009, should be close to 15.0%. We'll have the precise answer to this in about four hours, of course.

15.0% is a pretty god-awful, shocking number, on its own. But, here's where it gets even more alarming; from a five-year-old New York Times Op-Ed piece by top Obama administration economics advisor Austan Goolsbee, entitled: "The Unemployment Myth,"

The Unemployment Myth

Published: November 30, 2003

...the unemployment rate has been low only because government programs, especially Social Security disability, have effectively been buying people off the unemployment rolls and reclassifying them as "not in the labor force."

In other words, the government has cooked the books...

Research by the economists David Autor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Mark Duggan at the University of Maryland shows that once Congress began loosening the standards to qualify for disability payments in the late 1980's and early 1990's, people who would normally be counted as unemployed started moving in record numbers into the disability system -- a kind of invisible unemployment. Almost all of the increase came from hard-to-verify disabilities like back pain and mental disorders. As the rolls swelled, the meaning of the official unemployment rate changed as millions of people were left out.

By the end of the 1990's boom, this invisible unemployment seemed to have stabilized. With the arrival of this recession, it has exploded. From 1999 to 2003, applications for disability payments rose more than 50 percent and the number of people enrolled has grown by one million. Therefore, if you correctly accounted for all of these people, the peak unemployment rate in this recession would have probably pushed 8 percent.

The point is not whether every person on disability deserves payments. The point is that in previous recessions these people would have been called unemployed. They would have filed for unemployment insurance. They would have shown up in the statistics. They would have helped create a more accurate picture of national unemployment, a crucial barometer we use to measure the performance of the economy, the likelihood of inflation and the state of the job market.

...The situation has grown so dire, though, that we can't even tell whether the job market is recovering...Despite the blistering growth of the economy, the invisible unemployment problem continues...

So, here we have Mr. Goolsbee, one of the most influential economic advisors in the Obama administration, telling us that, during a time of significantly lower unemployment, a little over five or six years ago, one would have to add a good two percentage points to the government's unemployment numbers to account for those "invisibly unemployed" due to the reality that they had just filed disability claims with the government.

This segment of the population (and workforce) is completely missing from both the BLS' U.3 and the  U.6 numbers, the most recent updates to which we'll be hearing about in just a few hours.

(Read the headline of this diary one more time.)

Originally posted to on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 02:05 AM PST.

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