Unemployment - the Rosy View
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Tue, 1 Feb 100 18:12:01 -0800
Subject: Unemployment - the Rosy View
X-Lib-of-Cong-ISSN: 1098-7649 -=[ Fun_People ]=-
Forwarded-by: Chet Farmer
From: the WorkWeek section of the 2 Feb 00 Wall Street Journal
FULL PRISONS make unemployment data look rosier.
The strong economy has pushed U.S. joblessness to the lowest levels in
three decades. But a grim factor is also helping improve the numbers: a
record 1.7 million people are currently imprisoned in the U.S. Prisoners
are excluded from employment calculations. And since most inmates are
economically disadvantaged and unskilled, jailing so many people has
effectively taken a big block of the nation's least-employable citizens
out of the equation.
The proportion of the population behind bars has doubled since 1985, note
labor economists Lawrence Katz and Alan Krueger. If the incarceration rate
had held steady over that period, they suggest, the current 4.1% unemploy-
ment rate would be a less-robust 4.3%. And because minorities are jailed
at a much higher rate, black unemployment -- currently at a historically
low 7.9% -- would likely be as high as 9.4%, says Harvard's Dr. Katz.
© 2000 Peter Langston