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unemployment up or down

By FITSNews || Despite a record number of “discouraged job seekers” (a.k.a. people who are so depressed they’ve given up the job search), America’s unemployment rate fell from 10 percent to 9.7 percent last month.

Or did it?  That figure is up for some debate based on the “non-seasonally adjusted” numbers.

Had the U.S. Department of Labor not calculated a Census-based population adjustment to the January 2010 unemployment figures, America’s base unemployment rate (known as U-3) would have actually risen to 10.6 percent.

Meanwhile, the “underemployment rate” (known as U-6) would have also risen – from 17.1 to 18 percent. Instead, after the adjustment, the U-6 rate fell to 16.5 percent.

“Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data,” the census release notes.

Mmmm-hmmm. So one month, the rate is based on one “population control,” while the next month it’s based on another? And that switch results in a one percent change in the base rate and a 1.5 percent swing in the underemployment (a.k.a. real) rate?

In the words of one of our favorites (and Mrs. Sic’s favorite) commenters, we’re “not sayin’, just sayin’ …”

U.S. Unemployment Rate Comparison