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Mark Twain famously said that there’s “lies, dam lies and statistics”. The official unemployment rate is a very respectable 4.6% at last count, but this headline isn’t anywhere near as strong as it sounds. Recent data from the Census Bureau shows that since the beginning of 2010 the economy has created a very impressive 13.8 million jobs. Over the same period the population grew by 16 million. Now the labor force participation rate is 62.8% so only a little over 10 million of the 16 million entered the workforce. Of the jobs created no distinction is made between full time or part time nor is a distinction made between minimum wage and a 6-figure salary, but we know from experience that the vast majority of the jobs created in the post bust period since 2007 are in fact low wage and part time. Something that can be checked by cross referencing the employment data with information on consumer debt and spending which makes up some 70% of total economic activity. Take it a step further and look at the 3 and 4 decade declines in real or inflation adjusted earned income, the employment to population ratio and of course the labor force participation rate and the struggle to maintain 2% economic growth, new record highs in consumer debt levels, at or near record numbers of people on disability, unemployment and food stamps or SNAP as it is now known really comes in to perspective. Had the 4.6% unemployment rate been achieved with robust job growth as is the official narrative the economy would be booming. Instead it limps along on nearly free money, ballooning debt levels and sleight of hand confidence games.


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