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2.7%  Q1 GDP    4.57%  avg. 30-year mortgage     9.5%  Unemployment

Mort Zuckerman: Unemployment Worse Than You Know


For months, The Ticker has been telling you that the U.S. unemployment rate is actually much worse than the widely reported figure (now at 9.5 percent), because the number does not take into account the millions of Americans who should have full-time jobs but do not. Each month, in fact, we bring you the actual unemployment rate, which now stands at a staggering 16.5 percent.

Today, thanks to this op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by U.S. News & World Report chairman Mort Zuckerman, The Ticker is no longer shouting into the abyss. Well, maybe we still are, but at least we've got company now.

In today's piece, Zuckerman lays out a dismal and convincing case as to why the U.S. unemployment situation is actually worse than most realize and why it's going to stay that way for possibly several years.

Among his points:

-- "No fewer than 1.4 million people wanted or were available for work in the last 12 months but were not counted. Why? Because they hadn't searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey."

-- "The number of workers taking part-time jobs due to the slack economy, a kind of stealth underemployment, has doubled in this recession to about nine million, or 5.8% of the work force. Add those whose hours have been cut to those who cannot find a full-time job and the total unemployed rises to 16.5%, putting the number of involuntarily idle in the range of 25 million." (16.5% -- there's our number)

-- "The average length of official unemployment increased to 24.5 weeks, the longest since government began tracking this data in 1948. The number of long-term unemployed (i.e., for 27 weeks or more) has now jumped to 4.4 million, an all-time high."

Zuckerman notes that even when recovery begins, unemployment will linger at a high rate. Why? Because employers didn't just cut jobs during this recession (now in its 19th month), they downsized, meaning there will be fewer jobs to come back to.

Zuckerman goes on to criticize President Obama's $787 billion stimulus plan, saying that it was only a wish list of congressional spending projects, not a force-multiplier, to use a military term, that would truly help stimulate the economy.

You can read the entire column by clicking here.

-- Frank Ahrens
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By Frank Ahrens  |  July 14, 2009; 2:25 PM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Mort Zuckerman, unemployment  
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