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Unemployment Confusion

Recorded on December 2, 2011

From The Heritage Foundation, I'm Ernest Istook.

The latest unemployment news illustrates how our thinking is guided by the media.

It sounds good to hear that unemployment improved last month from 9 percent to only 8.6 percent. It also sounds good that a net of 120,000 new jobs were added. But at the same time, our working age population grew by 160,000 people. That means we needed to create more jobs than we did.

So why did the unemployment rate improve? Because over 300,000 people quit looking for work—and they are not counted as unemployed.

The government also reported that the number of those out of work for six months or more basically did not change.

So was it good news or bad news about the economy? It all depends on which details the media choose to emphasize.

From The Heritage Foundation, I'm Ernest Istook.