by Nate Jackson
The unemployment rate in Washington State is close to nine percent, but that nine percent does not include the true number of folks who are unemployed. The “functional unemployment” rate is 19 percent for the state and includes those on unemployment, part-time employed looking for more work, and those who have become so discouraged they stopped looking for work and are no longer receiving unemployment.
People who do have jobs, even if those jobs do not pay a living wage, are considered employed, but economists do have a term for all the folks who are working hard and not making it due to cut hours or work stoppages: in economic lingo, these folks are the “underemployed.”
The amount of people who are effectively shut out of the economic system by underemployment are not included in the standard unemployment reporting about the country’s economic woes. We need to have a clear vision of how many of us are hurting before we can begin to fix it. We can’t stop the bleeding until we look at all the wounds.
One of the worst lies is to blame the worker. There are not enough good jobs available and by blaming the worker instead of the big bonuses CEOs make, people put the blame on themselves. Do we think something is wrong with us instead of the real problems that have crashed this economy? We didn’t crash the economy; we were just taken for a ride.
Let’s break it down: The Department of Labor calculates unemployment by taking household surveys that screen for those who do not have work, those who have been looking for work in the previous four weeks, and those who are waiting to be recalled to work after being laid off. The surveys are of a sample of households that then represent the county as a whole, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.
The rate of unemployment does not tell the story of businesses who would rather work their current employees to the bone and feed back to CEOs and board members bonuses and pay raises instead of hiring workers. The unemployment rate does not include a “not-hiring-even though-they-should” factor.
We are hungry for work. We put in application, after application never getting call backs, emails or messages. We are looking for work that will support our families and the jobs simply are not there. We want to work; there just aren’t enough good jobs.
Big Banks and overpaid CEO’s took this economy off the rails. Now we need to put things back on track by standing together and getting back to work. We’ve just started this fight, but we’ve already started to see results. They heard us and now it’s time to listen to what we are saying.
Do your part to bring good jobs back to Washington State by joining us.
Associated Press—Christopher Rugaber
USA Today—Matt Krantz
Department of Labor