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Wednesday, August 8, 2012


- Don't trust the media, here's how to look it up yourself.

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"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!" - The Wizard of Oz to Dorothy and her entourage.

As we approach the 2012 elections, voters are being bombarded with rhetoric from politicians who will either try to present facts supporting their policies or deceptive spin. So much so, it is easy for voters to become confused and not know who to trust. Education is critical to any voting decision, and we certainly cannot depend on the press or "think tanks" to present the facts with any unbiased accuracy. Therefore, the purpose of this column is to provide reliable references for voters to validate the data presented. This will be the first in a series of such reports which will provide such resources for key campaign issues such as Taxes, the Economy, Immigration, and Energy. Today, we will discuss unemployment which has been of paramount importance to this country for the last few years.

As a preface, I usually produce my columns well in advance of the actual publication date. For example, this piece was written in mid-July in-between reporting periods for the government's unemployment reports. As such, this narrative will use statistics for the June 2012 report as reported on July 6, 2012. (The most recent report will have been posted on August 3rd).

The responsibility for reporting unemployment at the federal government level is:

The BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS, U.S. Department of Labor

This web site is considered the most authoritative source of unbiased labor related information. It is loaded with reports and tools for reporting on unemployment, productivity, pay, inflation, and much more. So vast is the amount of available statistics, it can become somewhat intimidating to navigate through the site. Fortunately, the cover of the site lists highlights, normally in date sequence. For example, it is here where you can easily access the latest "EMPLOYMENT SITUATION SUMMARY" which contains the lion's share of information the average citizen should be made aware of; to illustrate, here are some excerpts from the report:

"The number of unemployed persons (12.7 million) was essentially unchanged in June, and the unemployment rate held at 8.2 percent.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for blacks (14.4 percent) edged up over the month, while the rates for adult men (7.8 percent), adult women (7.4 percent), teenagers (23.7 percent), whites (7.4 percent), and Hispanics (11.0 percent) showed little or no change. The jobless rate for Asians was 6.3 percent in June (not seasonally adjusted), little changed from a year earlier.
In June, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) was essentially unchanged at 5.4 million. These individuals accounted for 41.9 percent of the unemployed.

Among the marginally attached, there were 821,000 discouraged workers in June, a decline of 161,000 from a year earlier. (These data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.7 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in June had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities."

The web site also produces some impressive tools for studying historical trends. For example, here is the "LABOR FORCE STATISTICS FROM THE CURRENT POPULATION SURVEY" (for the last ten years):

A similar ten year analysis is provided showing the "HIRE RATE."

There are also similar reports for job turnover, quitting rate, layoffs and discharges. See the "JOB OPENINGS AND LABOR TURNOVER SURVEY" for such data.

Also on the site, the "LOCAL AREA UNEMPLOYMENT STATISTICS" (LAUS) program produces monthly and annual employment, unemployment, and labor force data for states and various geographical regions. State governments, of course, have their own unemployment records, all of which are sent to the federal level which is analyzed in a consistent manner by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The data, in theory, should be reliable as it is produced by the federal and state governments. These are the same resources the politicians and media use to prepare their speeches and columns. However, there are other sources, such as opinion polls like GALLUP who keep a pulse of many issues of interest to the public, including UNEMPLOYMENT. Interestingly, their data does not necessarily match the federal government's, but provides some thought-provoking insight in terms of their projections.

If you wish to compare American unemployment to what is occurring in Europe, I suggest you reference the European Commission - "UNEMPLOYMENT STATISTICS," as sponsored by the European Union.

To find out the number of illegal aliens in the United States, presumably working in this country, check with the Department of Homeland Security. Their REPORT on "Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: January 2011" is based on data from the 2010 census.

The data and reports can become rather tedious and tiresome if you're not a statistician, but there is some excellent information available which I encourage you to seek out. It is the responsibility of you, the concerned citizen, to make an informed and educated decision, and nobody else. Don't wait for the media or politicians to make up your mind for you. Look it up yourself. Hopefully, this column will help point you in the right direction for making up your own mind.

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

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Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.