Unemployment lawyers are not happy about the fact that the US labor market is so skewed towards long-term unemployed workers.
“It’s not just about the unemployment rate, it’s also about the level of underemployment,” said Paul Schaffer, a former Labor Department official who is now a labor economics professor at the University of Southern California.
“If you want people to be able to get jobs, you’ve got to get them out of unemployment.”
Schaffer has been a vocal critic of the Obama administration’s unemployment numbers, saying they show that long-time unemployed Americans are still far more likely to find work than people who have been out of the workforce for a few years.
He has been quoted in the New York Times and Bloomberg Businessweek saying that the unemployment rates are “not really an indicator of the actual jobless rate” and that they are a “distortion” of the real unemployment rate.
Schaffer has also written about his concerns about the lack of diversity among the unemployment statistics.
“I think it’s important to look at the broader picture,” he said in an interview with Forbes.
“I think there’s a lot of bias in the unemployment numbers.
They’re not really an indication of the true unemployment rate.””
I don’t think it really has anything to do with whether people are in or out of work,” Schaffer added.
“In general, the unemployment figures are misleading.”
But Schaffer is not alone in his concerns.
A group of unemployment lawyers are asking the Labor Department to investigate whether the labor market data is being distorted because of political pressure.
They say that the Labor Dept. should conduct a more comprehensive review of the unemployment data to determine if there is any evidence that it has been manipulated.
The unemployment rate for all workers is at a record high, and the Labor Secretary has warned that the jobless total could exceed 9 million in the next six months.
The US economy is also struggling with an oversupply of workers, with the unemployment percentage now at its lowest level in nearly five years.
According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, the number of jobs created in the US during the past month was 2.5 million.
In the month ending September, the labor force participation rate — the percentage of people who say they have completed their high school education — was 65.5 percent.
For the year to date, the rate is 64.4 percent.