Just one third of Americans know the official unemployment rate is around six percent, according to the latest Pew Research Center News IQ Quiz. A tiny 4 percent cited a lower total, while a whopping 45 percent guessed much higher.
Past versions of the Pew quiz have often been portrayed as a reason to bemoan the ignorance of the American people. This one has plenty of that go around. With four multiple choice options to select from 40 percent couldn’t identify Ukraine as a former component of the Soviet Union.
But regarding the unemployment rate, it’s the official statistics that don’t properly identify reality.
The U.S. “civilian noninstitutional population” - the total count of civilian adults - grew by 217,000 in September, according to the latest jobs report from the U.S. Department of Labor. Those new entrants represent immigrants, young people coming of age, military personnel re-entering the civilian world, and so forth. Total U.S. population grows by about 190,000 each month, so for our economy to remain healthy a big chunk of those 217,000 new adult residents should have or be seeking jobs.
But the jobs report also shows the U.S. labor force decreased by 315,000 last month. There’s a lot of ways to leave the labor force, such as death, retirement, going to college, and disability. Just giving up looking for work is another option.