February 7, 2009

Hey, but at least the Republican arsonists have kept the Democratic firetrucks from getting through to put out the fire!

A Merrill Lynch analysis of the non-farm payroll numbers released on Friday makes for disquieting reading, to say the least.

The analysis by North American economist David Rosenberg indicates that the actual unemployment rate, while normally higher than the official one by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hit a level not seen since at least 1994. The good news: Inflation is not much of a threat as a result.

As Mr. Rosenberg explained, what the official unemployment rate misses is the vast degree of ‘underemployment’ as companies cut back on the hours that people who are still employed are working. Those hours have declined 1.2% in the past twelve months.

The BLS still counts people as employed if they are working part-time, but the number who have been forced into that status because of slack economic conditions has ballooned nearly 70% in the past year, according to the study. Mr. Rosenberg said was that was a record growth rate for the 15-year period he has studied.

When that amount of slack in employment is taken into account, Mr. Rosenberg found that the ‘real’ unemployment rate has actually climbed to 13.9%, an all-time high for the period he studied, and up from 13.5% in December and 11.2% a year ago.

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