Miserable? Feeling like you want to turn the corners of the smiley down so it reflects your current mood? Believe you would get the lead role in the Les Misérables? Take a look at the Misery Index and see if you really are feeling like the only solution is to either jump now or bang your head against the desk of the guy sitting next to you. You could always attempt to punch the screen of the PC so you stop getting the ticker with the bad news across the top of it. Miserable!
The Misery Index was invented decades ago by Arthur Okun, an economist and adviser to President Lyndon Johnson (back in the 1960s). It’s the unemployment rate and the inflation rate added together, which would make any of us real miserable these days, wouldn’t it? At least, the first figure would. Although, if we really want to have some fun, then we could do not just the Misery Index, but the REAL Misery Index by taking the real unemployment figure and not just the one that has been dressed up by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the masses of Sheeple that are ready to believe that we have a 6.7% unemployment level today in the USA.
The U-3 Unemployment Rate, the official figure that is released publically and bandied about as being a gauge of how great the US economy is doing, is enough to make anyone’s smiley go into a fit of rage. Still, no point ranting, it’s been like that since 1994, when the people who were discouraged from looking for work were taken out of the figures. The inflation rate for the USA stood at 1.5% for December 2013 (released on January 16th 2014). So that means the USA has a Misery Index of 8.2.
Taking the U-6 Unemployment Rate, which includes all of those that are going to do a great deal for the image of any government (the guys that are discouraged, can’t and haven’t been able to find jobs and all of those that have worked part time and so have been considered to be employed) things look very different. The December U-6 figure stood at 13.1%. That’s a more miserable Misery Index than the previous (official) one, isn’t it? More fitting with your current mood? The total figure then stands at 14.6. It could be worse, however, when inflation was running at over 14% in the first and second quarters of 1980 and the Misery Index was at the all-time high of over 21.
If we are to believe the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more people in work today, but they also fail to tell us that roughly 97% of jobs that have been created are only part-time positions that people have been forced to accept because they can’t get by financially. Economically forced to become miserable! Back in August 2013 when the Federal Reserve kept playing with the nerves of investors and the markets by its catch-me-if-you-can game in which Ben Bernanke thought it would be a good idea to announce Mondays that tapering was on the cards, then Tuesdays that he was having second thoughts. By the time Fridays came around it was just a whole mess and nobody knew what was happening. So it went on for weeks and weeks but the decisive factor was always the employment rate and getting below the 7%-mark.
Now we are there (officially, of course). But, in the first half of the year for 2013 there were 963, 000 people that were reported as having become ‘employed’. Of those, there were 936, 000 that were reported to have found nothing more than part-time employment. Does the Bureau of Labor Statistics know that living off a couple of hours a week in employment doesn’t even help to scrape a living? Part-time means lowly paid jobs too in the restaurant sector, retail and health as well as temporary-staffing agencies. The involuntary part-time employment rate doubled over the period of 2007-2012. Women increased the most from 3.6% to 7.8%, while men went from 2.4% to 5.9%. Miserable!
Unemployment and inflation have a clear influence on happiness in the country, just as long as it’s the real statistics that are being used and not the ones that get doctored up to make it seem as if we are on the road to recovery. The intravenous drip is being withdrawn, but the people are still miserable. Sheeple are miseries too. How far does the Misery Index actually do anything, though? Inflation is low right now and it doesn’t mean that we are happy bunnies waiting for the next bout of open-field cross-country running in the financial markets with the breeze in our hair. Misery is falling according to the Misery Index and is currently at a four-year low.
But, can we judge the book by its cover? Hardly! A quarter of US citizens are going to default in the next few months on their credit-card repayments. One fifth are using credit more and more often just to pay the utility bills and buy the groceries.
Just how miserable do you feel right now?
Originally posted: You’re Miserable USA!
You might also enjoy: Emerging Markets: Lock, Stock and Barrel | End of the Financial World 2014 | Kristallnacht on Wall Street? Bull! | China’s Credit Crunch | Working for the Few | USA:The Land of the Not-So-Free