Unemployment Numbers Versus Unemployed

I listened to a snippet or two of Ivanka Trump’s keynote at the CES conference in Las Vegas. Her keynote has been the subject of controversy in the tech circles because of her lack of direct involvement with technology As such, there were several calls to boycott the conference and the keynote.

The keynote was done in a more “Q&A” talk how format. I’ve embedded the keynote here:

What caused me to want to write a blog on this keynote was not the controversy, but rather an interesting tidbit she states around the 3 minute and 20 second mark. She states that there are 6.5 unemployed works, but that there are also countless people that aren’t included in the statistic because they are marginalized and outside are outside of the work force.


“Outside of the work force.”

Simply put, the number of people without jobs are not those referred to by the “unemployeed” numbers. Those numbers are missing “countless” people. How significant is countless?

Ivanka Trump tosses out an interesting statistic. Over the past year, 73% of the jobs secured in the workforce were not by people who were unemployed, but by people who were on the sidelines or “marginalized”. If there are enough uncounted, unemployed people to be taking 3 out of 4 open positions, does that mean the true unemployed number could be four times the numbers being tossed around?

The unemployment numbers are obtained via a survey that is done of thousands of people. If a person is not working, but looking for a job, then they are unemployed. If a person is working on a home business or start-up and making no money, they are considered employed. An accountant that is laid off and waiting tables to pay the rent until they find a new job is considered employed even though they are not making enough money to cover their costs nor working at the profession they are trained.

The unemployed number is determined by using the percentage of people who are looking for work, but unable to find it, divided by the total number of people in the workforce. It doesn’t account for underemployed people are those not actively looking for whatever reasons.

I don’t have the details on how many people exist that are not counted in the unemployed numbers; however, until these numbers are known, it is a bit disingenuous to use the ‘unemployed’ numbers provided by the government as an indicator of how many people need jobs. The reality is, those numbers only indicate a portion of the real number and we can’t be certain what portion that is.

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