The Real Unemployment Numbers and Why I’m Not Counted
As a Daily Work job seeker, I was pleased to hear that unemployment rate in the state of Minnesota is one of the lowest in the nation. I wondered if this means that everyone who lost their jobs is now returning to work and there is a happy ending to this story.
Sadly, I know so many people who are still really struggling. So, I did my research and I wasn’t surprised to learn that there are a number of factors that do not reflect the real number of unemployed people in Minnesota and elsewhere.
The Truth about the Unemployment Rate
According to Jim Clifton, chairman and CEO at Gallup, the Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment rate is a “big lie.” Here’s why:
- Anyone who has given up their job search or who hasn’t looked for work for at least four weeks is not included in the Department of Labor’s unemployment statistics
- People performing odd jobs for just one hour per week and paid at least $20 – again, not included.
- People working part-time, but who want full-time or who are underemployed (senior people working more entry-level jobs….you guessed it: Not Included!
A blog post on Money Crashers.com brought up some other important factors that contribute to creating a misleading unemployment rate such as:
- The household survey size used (60,000 households) is too small, which often does not accurately represent the big picture.
- Millions of people are not represented in the data collected including:
- Recent graduates who are not yet looking for work
- People who just lost their jobs, but who were employed the week of the survey
- Workers on temporary leaves or disabled workers still in transition from a former job they are no longer able to work
- People working jobs that do not pay them enough to survive (but they are technically “working”).
- People with multiple jobs are often counted more than once, throwing off the correct number of employed workers.
I am a perfect example of people not included in the unemployment statistics. After months of seeking work, I decided to go back to school because I couldn’t find a job.
After a couple of years of going to school, I developed several chronic illnesses and I was unable to work or go to school. With no way to support myself, I also became homeless. While living at the homeless shelter, I met others in the same situation, including people with felonies who were unable to find work due to their criminal history and people like me, who just couldn’t find jobs and eventually became homeless. From personal experience, I can tell you that not having a home makes finding and keeping a job very difficult.
About this time, I thought I would never find a way out of homelessness and joblessness, but then I found Daily Work and I started to get the help I needed. Change didn’t happen right away, because by now, I had a lot of struggles facing me – I was in poor health, homeless and, I was losing hope for the future.
But Daily Work did not give up on me. They helped me feel hope again and the services they told me about gave me the boost I needed to stabilize my health and living situation so I could start building a new foundation for a successful life.
As I look back and reflect on my experience, I realize that Daily Work differs from other social services organizations in several ways. For example, when I first entered their office I expected more of the same; to be shuffled through the system and treated like a number, not a person.
I was so wrong. Although Daily Work offers a lot of the same services as other help agencies, they work with me and ALL their clients as people first. Because I was treated as a human being with potential and value, it made a world of difference to my self-esteem.
Daily Work sees my eagerness to return to being a productive member of the workforce and continues to support me in achieving my career goals. Right now, I am volunteering as an “intern” at Daily Work by working on the website, posting on social media, and even writing this blog post. This internship is giving me the skills and experience I need to get back in the workforce in my chosen field, graphic design and communications.
Daily Work is a gift to me and so many others. It demonstrates how nonprofits can think outside the box and provide a person like me with support and help that isn’t possible in other organizations.
To learn more about unemployment rates or to read all of Jim Clifton’s and Money Crashers.com’s opinion pieces, click on the articles below.
By Lee Olafson, Graphic & Web Design/Social media management intern with Daily Work.