Welcome to my “replying to conservative scare emails” series. Featuring me biting my tongue as I try to politely respond to friends that forward me this stuff.
Hi [name witheld for privacy],
The information you have provided has been really fascinating. Thank you again for being actively engaged in our American government and political system, and sharing your thoughts with me. I had to do research on this one since it’s true, the mainstream media doesn’t explain this well enough.
I found one of the leading liberal websites that I follow also point out the difference between the U3 and U6 and how it’s confusing. The article basically says the same thing you got from the conservative website, and might be useful for giving a source that liberals tend to respect more, the Huffington Post. Here’s the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sheldon-filger/controversy-over-us-unemployment_b_1945235.html
However, since of course this is the liberal perspective it will argue that the numbers tend to be a political game.
After looking at this, I currently agree that looking at the monthly unemployment rate actually isn’t that useful (because they are often revised months after). But, I would argue since we have been using the U3 since Clinton, meaning Bush was judged by the U3, that it makes sense to continue using U3. If we used U6 under Clinton or Bush the unemployment rate would also be much higher. So, if we used U6 on Bush it would say that Bush brought the U.S unemployment rate to over 30% due to his lack of financial regulation. I’m sure Democrats would be using the same tactics if the Republicans were president, so I applaud looking into this. Below is an explanation by someone who is better at writing about this:
“We continue to use the U3 because it rises and falls at about the same rate at the U6. The U6 at this point is trotted out only when the opposition wants to talk about “the real unemployment rate” and use the shock value of much higher U6 number. If you want to use the U6, Obama is doing just about as well as the U3 number. You can cherry pick good numbers from the U6 during this recovery, too: From February to March, the U3 went down only a 0.1%, and the U6 went down more, to 0.4%. from April 2011 to April 2012, the U3 went down 0.9% but the U6 went down 1.4%. We’d be in real trouble if the “U3 gets better but the U6 doesn’t” over a longer period of time, but this is just one month. Obama is just lucky that the U3 number helps his poll ratings.The point is there’s no real reason to use the U6 instead of the U3 as a general barometer. The U6 has its uses outside of partisan politics, but the general story looking at the U6 and U3 numbers is that the job market is getting better, slowly but surely.”
Again, thanks for discussing this with me and feel free to give me your thoughts on my interpretation of the Republican and Democrat sources. You find that looking at both sides offers the best truth, as shown by the overlap. To summarize the overlap, both articles say: unemployment rate is often political, discouraged workers aren’t counted, unemployment rate often revised months after release, unemployment rate in general not the best indicator of economic health. I learned a lot from this research, and I hope you continue the discussion.