Monday, April 14, 2008

What is Paul Krugman Talking About?

Paul Krugman in today's NY Times: The official unemployment rate of 5.1%, though rising, is still fairly low by historical standards. Yet economic attitudes are worse now than they were in 1992, when the average unemployment rate was 7.5%. Why are we feeling so down?

Our bleakness partly reflects the fact that most Americans are doing considerably worse than the usual economic measures let on.
The official unemployment rate may be relatively low — but the percentage of prime-working-age Americans without jobs, which isn’t the same thing, is historically high.

Don Boudreaux responds: Krugman is simply wrong to assert that the percentage of Americans of prime-working-age without jobs is "historically high" -- and misleading to suggest that, whatever this percentage might be today, that it is evidence of some major economy malady.

Comment: The labor-force participation rate for prime-working-age Americans has been relatively flat at about 83% for the last 20 years (see chart above, data available here), and is actually slightly higher so far this year at 83.10% (average from Jan-March 2008) than in any full year since 2002 (83.3%).

Don is correct - what is Krugman talking about? The percentage of prime-working-age Americans without jobs is close to an historical low, not an historical high!

5 Comments:

At 4/14/2008 6:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe Krugman was referencing Floyd Norris and presumably this chart.

 
At 4/14/2008 7:59 PM, Anonymous Kevin said...

Krugman is a dope.

Remember - non partisan analysis shows him to be the most liberal columnist in America.

 
At 4/14/2008 10:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What would one expect from Krugman...the usual populist "hidden unemployed".

When one looks at what this man does to history in his most recent imprint, Conscience of a Liberal, I guess one cannot be surprised at anything Paul Krugman would assert. Unfortunately, a very promising economist has bevolved into a rank partisan.

 
At 4/14/2008 10:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul Krugman is as usual full of cr..

 
At 4/15/2008 7:11 AM, Blogger K T Cat said...

Err, he's not talking about anything factual. He's picking and choosing data so he can engage in his favorite hobby - demagoguery.

 

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