Jan 23, 2017

New data on the 'real' unemployment rate

Pablo Martinex Monsivais / AP

White House press secretary Sean Spicer today was asked if President Trump stands by his unsubstantiated claims last fall that America's real unemployment figure could be upwards of 42% and, if not, what figure the Administration would use as an employment baseline.

Spicer punted, instead saying: "Too often in Washington we get our heads wrapped around a number, a statistic... For too long it's been about what number are we looking at rather than what face are we looking at."

The reality, however, is that employment numbers matter a lot. Not just for political talking points, but also for determining economic policy. Moreover, today we got updated data from the Richmond Fed, which regularly calculates an alternative unemployment rate that is higher than the official figure of 4.7%, but still well below Trump's 42% doomsday.

It's called the NEI:

Source: Richmond Federal Reserve

NEI differs from the traditional unemployment figure in two major ways:

  1. It counts not only those who are actively seeking work, but also the broader group of people out of the labor force.
  2. It weights that latter group based on their labor force attachment. For example, someone casually seeking work is weighted more than someone who is contently retired, or a college student.

The Richmond Fed reported an 8.4% NEI in December 2016, which is basically the same number as the prior month and down 0.2% since December 2015. When including workers who are only part-time for economic reasons, the figure climbs to 9.5%. That's also unchanged from the prior month, and down 0.3% from the year-earlier period.

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Virus vices take a toll on Americans

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans are doubling down on their worst habits to cope with the mental and emotional stress of the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: The pandemic will have a long-lasting impact on health of the American people, in part due to the habits they will pick up during the weeks and months they are forced to stay home.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 a.m. ET: 1,203,923 — Total deaths: 64,795 — Total recoveries: 247,273Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 a.m. ET: 312,237 — Total deaths: 8,502 — Total recoveries: 14,997Map.
  3. Public health latest: CDC launches national trackers and recommends face coverings in public. Federal government will cover costs of COVID-19 treatment for uninsured. The virus is hitting poor, minority communities harder and upending childbirth.
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. "We're having the convention at the end of August."
  5. Business updates: Restaurants step up for health care workers. Employees are pressuring companies to provide protections during coronavirus.
  6. Oil latest: Monday meeting among oil-producing countries to discuss supply curbs is reportedly being delayed amid tensions between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
  7. Education update: Many college-age students won't get coronavirus relief checks.
  8. 1 🏀 thing: The WNBA postpones start of training camps and season.
  9. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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World coronavirus updates: Confirmed cases top 1.2 million

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The number of novel coronavirus cases surpassed 1.2 million worldwide Saturday night, as Spain overtook Italy as the country with the most infections outside the U.S.

The big picture: About half the planet's population is now on lockdown and the global death toll was nearing 64,800, by Sunday morning, per Johns Hopkins data.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 hours ago - Health