We at IBD often get lambasted for our gloomy take on the monthly jobs data that emerge from the government. After all, if the government puts it out, it can't be inaccurate, can it? And it must be honest, right?
Well, we're not alone in casting aspersions on the dicey employment numbers. As we've said many times, properly measured, the current unemployment rate is somewhere north of 10% — depending on how you slice the numbers.
Now, in an unprecedented column on the Gallup website, Gallup CEO Jim Clifton rips into the government's jobs data in a piece not so subtly titled: "The Big Lie: 5.6% Unemployment."
In it, Clifton calls the Labor Department jobs data "extremely misleading" and scores the White House, Wall Street and the media for their incessant cheerleading on the official decline in unemployment from around 10% to the current 5.6%.
"Right now," says Clifton, "as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work or severely unemployed. Trust me, the vast majority of them aren't throwing parties to toast 'falling' unemployment."
He notes that if an out-of-work engineer, health care worker, construction worker or retail manager — good jobs, all — performs even an hour of work in a week and receives $20, he is officially counted as "employed." And if you're working a part-time job of only 10 hours a week because it's the only thing available, you're not counted as unemployed.
"Few Americans know this," Clifton says.
He defines a good job as one that provides 30-plus hours of work each week and a regular paycheck. By that measure, just 44% of the adult population have jobs that meet those very basic criteria.
Even to get that up to 50%, he says, we need "a bare minimum of 10 million new, good jobs to replenish America's middle class."