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What Do the Numbers Mean?

In a business dominated by numbers, what they mean and how they can be manipulated are topics of constant debate. The U.S. unemployment rate rose slightly last week to 5.7%, but what does that mean? On the surface, it implies a slowing economy, or at least one that’s not expanding as much as before. Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry claimed on Friday that the number “is a sham,” and implied that the Obama administration is trying to peddle us a bill of goods. Perry points out that there are many millions in the labor force who don’t have jobs, but yet aren’t accounted for in that 5.7%. 

 

Of course he’s right, but his point is mostly irrelevant. The unemployment rate is calculated today the same way it was under Republican (and past Democratic) administrations. Anyone who understands economics and statistics knows it does not give the full story about how ... Log in or subscribe to continue reading.


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