After adjusting the BLS unemployment number to what is known as “U-6” – a measure that includes total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total part-time employed for economic reasons – unemployment in April was 12.3 percent.
The amount (not seasonally adjusted) of Americans not in the labor force in April rose to 92,594,000, almost 1 million more than the previous month. In March, 91,630,000 Americans were not in the labor force, which includes an aging population that is continuing to head into retirement.
According to John Williams, an economist known for arguing the government reports manipulate “shadow statistics” of economic data for political purposes, drops in the unemployment rate as reported by the BLS have become virtually meaningless.
“The broad economic outlook has not changed, despite the heavily-distorted numbers that continue to be published by the BLS,” Williams writes in his subscription newsletter on ShadowStats.com. “The unemployment rates have not dropped from peak levels due to a surge in hiring; instead, they generally have dropped because of discouraged workers being eliminated from headline labor-force accounting.”
Williams recreates a ShadowStats alternative unemployment rate reflecting methodology that includes “long-term discouraged workers.” In 1994 under the Clinton administration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics removed that category from those considered “unemployed” in any of the government’s unemployment measures.
The BLS publishes six levels of unemployment, but only the headline U3 unemployment rate gets the press. The headline number does not count as unemployed the “discouraged” workers who have not looked for work in the past four weeks because they believed no jobs were available.