muses of the moment

August 10, 2012

Abbott and Costello explain US Unemployment

Filed under: Odds 'n ends, Unemployment — totallygroovygirlfriday @ 2:40 pm

If you didn’t see this on Jim Sinclair’s site today…it’s great.

Abbott and Costello explain unemployment accounting. This is very instructive if you are trying to understand how the figure varies.

COSTELLO:  I want to talk about the unemployment rate in America .
ABBOTT:  Good Subject. Terrible Times. It’s 9%.
COSTELLO:  That many people are out of work?
ABBOTT:  No, that’s 16%.
COSTELLO:  You just said  9%.
ABBOTT:  9% Unemployed.
COSTELLO:  Right 9% out of work.
ABBOTT:  No, that’s 16%.
COSTELLO:    Okay, so it’s 16% unemployed.
ABBOTT:  No, that’s 9% .
COSTELLO:  WAIT A MINUTE. Is it 9% or 16%?
ABBOTT:  9% are unemployed. 16% are out of work.
COSTELLO:  IF you are out of work you are unemployed.
ABBOTT:  No, you can’t count the “Out of Work” as the unemployed.  You  have to look for work to be unemployed.
ABBOTT:  No, you miss my point.
COSTELLO:  What point?
ABBOTT:   Someone who doesn’t look for work, can’t be counted with those who look for work.  It wouldn’t be fair.
COSTELLO:  To whom?
ABBOTT:  The unemployed.
COSTELLO: But they are ALL out of work.
ABBOTT:  No, the unemployed are actively looking for work.  Those who are out of work stopped looking.    They gave up. And, if you give up, you are no longer in the ranks of the unemployed.
COSTELLO:  So if you’re off the unemployment rolls, that would count as less unemployment?
ABBOTT:  Unemployment would go down.   Absolutely!
COSTELLO:  The unemployment just goes down because you don’t look for work?
ABBOTT:  Absolutely it goes down. That’s how you get to 9%. Otherwise it would be 16%. You don’t want to read about 16% unemployment, do ya?
COSTELLO:  That would be frightening.
ABBOTT:  Absolutely.
COSTELLO:    Wait, I got a question for you. That means there are two ways to bring down the unemployment number?
ABBOTT:  Two ways is correct.
COSTELLO:  Unemployment can go down if someone gets a job?
ABBOTT:  Correct.
COSTELLO:  And unemployment can also go down if you stop looking for a job?
ABBOTT:  Bingo.
COSTELLO:  So there are two ways to bring unemployment down, and the easier of the two is to just  stop looking for work.
ABBOTT:  Now you’re thinking like an economist.
COSTELLO:  I don’t even know what the hell I just said!
ABBOTT: Now you’re thinking like a politician.



  1. I always suspected this kid followed you. This might be further proof: (CNBC “Experts” explain US Unemployment). It’s the Abbot and Costello dialogue above put into a clever format.

    Comment by soleirolia — August 16, 2012 @ 6:33 pm

  2. I don’t know, I stole that bit from Jim Sinclair’s site 🙂


    Comment by totallygroovygirlfriday — August 16, 2012 @ 7:16 pm

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