San Mateo’s Art Bailly hopes to get lucky and find work at a fast food franchise. Said Bailly: “I’m running around out here looking for a job at McDonald’s.” [Unemployment Extended Benefits Expiration May Lower Jobless Rates, by Arthur Delaney, Huffington Post, May 21, 2012]
What put Bailly into his unexpected predicament is that his unemployment insurance ran out two months earlier than he anticipated. Bailly is one of more than 90,000 Californians who in May abruptly stopped receiving federal unemployment insurance. Nationwide, eight states lost eligibility last month for the federal Extended Benefits program which, according to the National Employment Law Project, consequently put 200,000 jobless at risk.
Curiously, Bailly’s looming underemployment might improve the official unemployment rate. Since his benefits have been cut off, Bailly may be forced to take a McDonald’s job that he would not previously have considered. Or, if he’s unsuccessful, Bailly may stop looking for work altogether and thus be formally eliminated from the official government jobless ranks.
In order to collect unemployment insurance, prospective workers like Bailly must actively look for jobs. People who aren’t seeking work because they believe none is available aren’t part of the federal unemployment rate calculation. Workers only count as “unemployed” if they have tried to find jobs within a four week period of a government survey.
Prominent Barclays and JPMorgan Chase economists Dean Maki and Michael Feroli claim that this phenomena—either landing a minimum wage job or staying home—could reduce unemployment by 0.2 percent in the coming months. This would be a part of the farcical effort by the Obama administration to get the national unemployment rate as low as possible by November. [End of Extended Benefits Could Lower Jobless Rate, by Shobhana Chandra, Business Week, May 21, 2012]
Read my CAPS blog about artificially low unemployment.
If Bailly ends up flipping burgers, then he will become part of a fast growing trend: America as a part-time worker society. As of May, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 28 million Americans work less than 35 hours a week. Last month, the economy added 618,000 part time jobs and lost 266,000 full time positions. Since December 2007, full time jobs have declined by 6.9 million while part-time jobs have increased by 3.1 million.
No matter how gloomy the United States employment picture, the White House and Congress remain determined to undermine American workers by promoting more non-immigrant work visas (as many as 15 bills are currently under consideration) and maintaining legal immigration at an unsustainable one million annually.