Someone misrepresented facts. Again.
‘Unemployment’ vs. ‘Underemployment’
This time it was Senator Sanders during the first Democratic Debate:
African American youth unemployment is 51 percent. Hispanic youth unemployment is 36 percent. // Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT)
The mistake: Right numbers. Wrong attribution.
The data is from a recent report prepared by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). The talk was on ‘unemployment’ while quoting ‘underemployment’.
The difference is quite big.
Labor Statistics: They Are Hard to Tell Apart
Statistics can be ‘framed’ easily. Hence one should be mindful when interpreting them.
#1: Different Sources
#2: Different Data Sets
Both organizations define ‘recent high school graduates’ differently:
- Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS): 16-24 years
- Economic Policy Institute (EPI): 17-20 years
#3: Different Classifications
Even within a consistent and clean data set of a particular organization there are alternative measures of labor underutilization (url).
For example: The BLS uses 6 levels of ‘underutilization’:
- U-1 – persons unemployed 15 weeks or longer, as a percent of the civilian labor force
- U-2 – job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs, as a percent of the civilian labor force
- U-3 [UNEMPLOYED] – total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor force (= definition for ‘official unemployment rate’)
- U-4 – total unemployed plus discouraged workers, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus discouraged workers
- U-5 – total unemployed, plus discouraged workers, plus all other marginally attached workers, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers
- U-6 [UNDEREMPLOYED] – total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers
Intentionally or not, it is easy to mix things up.
Reading Between the Lines
All confusion aside, research shows a clear picture: young Americans have a lot of room to grow.
If employers play it smart, they can attract 25 million+ young Americans who are looking for ‘better opportunities’.
An effective way of reaching these audiences will help finding the right talent – even in tight labor markets.
- Check your facts & question statistics
- The pool of potential candidates can be bigger than expected
Additional Reading & Links:
- Great research work by FactCheck.org (url) – basis for this article
- Employment status (U.S. // Q2 2015) provided by BLS (url)
- Bernie Sanders website (url)
- Ezra Klein & Bernie Sanders interview (url)
- Bureau of Labor Statistics Glossary (url)
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