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By Dylan Matthews

Usually this is where Ezra would relay some Chuck Norris-esque fact about me, but that would be unseemly. What have we got today?

By Dylan Matthews  |  August 24, 2010; 8:45 AM ET
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Next: Ummm, never mind about that mutual fund thing


Dylan Matthews is here to make charts and chew gum. And he's all out of gum.

This may have been covered before, but how do we determine, really, who has "given up" on looking for work, versus who is "actively seeking work". We're often told unemployment is up x, but it's actually worse, because 100,000 people gave up looking for work (presumably forever). How do we know they gave up looking for work? Is there a number they call to say? Is there a survey they fill out?

I have a hard time understanding how this "gave up looking for work" number can be accurate. Obviously, people who stop collecting benefits because they ran out haven't "given up looking for work", they just can't collect benefits. And folks who really have given up looking wouldn't stop collecting benefits just because they gave up, if their still eligible for the money.

If we're going to assert there is a large body of perpetually unemployed folks who aren't retired or disabled, but also aren't working and aren't looking for a job, shouldn't we be able to say more about them? About how we arrive at that number? And shouldn't they be encouraged to shave and shower and do something productive with their time? Like donate it to a worthy cause or clean up a local park or something?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | August 24, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

What's the geographic distribution of the top one percent of wage earners across the U.S.? What about the top .01%? I suspect that when people in, say, Nebraska hear that Democrats want to tax the top 0.1% they think of the wealthiest in their own community without realizing that the vast majority who make that kind of money are located in a few major metropolitan areas.

Posted by: jackie_chiles | August 24, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to know if total asset values have been tracked: I.e. if you took all the real estate in the world at its market value + all stocks + all extant tradeable manufactured goods (used tv's and whatnot, assuming normal depreciation) + all mined natural minerals (commodities in general) * their market prices.

What does this measure most closely track, if anything? Money supply? GDP (inflation or inflation adjusted)? Wage growth (* population)?

If this isn't available or calculable worldwide, is it for the U.S. or any other reasonable subset?

I'm mostly curious about how this compares to wages (mean/median) over time, and how obvious asset bubbles are when looking at a time series.

Posted by: sullivanmatthewr | August 24, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

What exactly does the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act of 2009 do, and what impact can we expect it to have? Should people care?

Posted by: neilinottawa | August 24, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to know if the Tea Party proposal to repeal the 17th Amendment and go back to election of US senators by state legislatures were enacted, whether the party composition of the Senate would actually change much.

Posted by: davidleetodd | August 24, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

The Deficit Peacocks love to scare folks with US government debt per person, as if we'll each have to come up with $40,000 to $50,000 one of these days. I wonder what the numbers would be if we distribute it by wealth or income. Would the top .1% share be in the millions per plutocrat and the average working stiff's share drop to a week's take home pay?

Posted by: kellgo | August 24, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I'm wondering why credit card interest rates rise when general interest rates are low. My suspicion is that it's simply the default rate for credit cards is higher, but that can't explain everything. I mean, shouldn't if interest rates are plummeting, credit card rates should be, too?

Posted by: lgj110 | August 24, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Some bloggers keep saying that the American housing market would collapse without Fannie Mae, Fredie Mac, and the VA. What do other countries, in particular, Canada, do? Do they have anything like the GSEs and if not, howtheir mortgage markets compare with ours?

Posted by: adonsig | August 24, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

My questions are about job creation.

We hear--and you have written about--how small businesses create jobs and about how we should find ways to help small businesses get hiring. So: Can you find data, or comparisons with other countries, that show how many jobs small businesses would/could create if we adopted a Single Payer Health Care plan tomorrow? (Canadian-style, Medicare for All, etc.)

My own unscientific, anecdotal survey of small business friends, vendors, suppliers and colleagues -- just people I actually know -- we could create 100 or more jobs tomorrow in our local community if all health care cost issues were taken completely out of the picture for small employers. And it's not just providing the employee health care. I can't afford the risk of expanding because I might lose my health care. Even though all other factors point to expanding and hiring being the right thing to do.

Posted by: semoore001 | August 24, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone done a side-by-side comparison of the results (GDP growth, employment, etc,)of the Obama administration economic policies (stimulus, etc) and the policies advocated by the Republicans (spending freeze, no stimulus, etc.)?

Posted by: jimjinphx | August 24, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone done a side-by-side comparison of the results (GDP growth, employment, etc,)of the Obama administration economic policies (stimulus, etc) and the policies advocated by the Republicans (spending freeze, no stimulus, etc.)?

Posted by: jimjinphx | August 24, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

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