The number-crunching site FiveThirtyEight argues that while the real unemployment rate is higher than the government's official rate of 4.9 percent, it isn't all that much higher (5.8%). Author Ben Casselman argues the number of "discouraged workers" - those neither working nor looking for work but wishing to work - has declined dramatically over the past few quarters. We disagree.
Going to work is a habit, one that distressing numbers find easy to break, and others have never acquired. The Great Recession forced millions to go beyond unemployment insurance, which they exhausted, to find the wherewithal of life.
Author Casselman overlooks a major factor - all the millions who have managed to get themselves declared "disabled" or have otherwise found ways to survive economically without working. Many such individuals will never work again, having found a path to survival involving some combination of government and private or parental assistance.
How many allegedly "retired" workers in their late 50s and early 60s can find non-gig employment in a job market where there is no shortage of younger people to hire? In spite of anti-discrimination laws, the answer is darned few. Plus the evidence shows that those who succeed in being declared "disabled" rarely return to the workforce, although their support level is far from lavish.
COTTonLINE agrees half of those permanently out of the workforce are retiring baby boomers for whom retirement is age-appropriate, even if they'd like to keep working. Perhaps another quarter are truly disabled. That still leaves a quarter who should be included in the "true" unemployment rate, a number larger than what Casselman allows.