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The Real Unemployment Statistics

Newspapers today are proudly touting Florida's new unemployment numbers, which have allegedly dropped to a two-year low of 11.5%. Jesus, when did "11.5" start sounding like good news?

Well, it's not -- it's not even news at all, 'cuz our unemployment statistics are meaningless. Americans still gauge unemployment by looking at how many people are looking for work, which makes no sense. Consider the prisons. We've got about 102,000 inmates in Florida's penitentiary system, which is about .7 percent of the population -- and none of them are working. That alone raises Florida's unemployment numbers to 12.2% or so.

And then consider the under-employed -- those part-timers, freelancers, and the doers of odd jobs who lack job security, insurance, or disposable income. Overwhelmingly, these folks don't show up on unemployment rolls. Nor do last year's college grads, who spent six months looking for work, became despondent, and now spend their days slurping cheap beer and playing X-Box in their parents' living rooms. And what about baby-boomers forced into early, underfunded retirement by their unsuitability for the 21st century job market? We got a whole generation of people who thought hard work and company loyalty would allow them to retire with dignity, sitting around with nothing to do, contemplating a future of busking, cat food, and suicide. C'mon, America. Enough of the bullshit stats. All these folks deserve better than that.

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Brandon K. Thorp

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