Fitzpatrick Pushes for Real Jobs Stats

Fitzpatrick Pushes for Real Jobs Stats

LANGHORNE, PA – Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8) joined labor economist Diana Furchtgott-Roth Friday to announce the introduction of new bipartisan legislation which would provide for an overhaul of the monthly federal jobs report to make it more reflective of real employment situation of Americans.

“Unemployment numbers are carefully scrutinized and cited as an indicator of overall economic health. However many economists, including a former administrator of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), have criticized the number as being an inaccurate representation of the actual job market,” said Fitzpatrick. “We need an accurate unemployment rate that aids the nation’s labor force by providing a better snapshot of the economy and job market, allowing economists to provide more accurate analysis and letting policy makers make more informed decisions.”

“The way we measure unemployment needs to be reconsidered to include people who have left the labor force but still want to work, as well as those who are underemployed, so that the statistics can offer a better guide to policymakers,” explained Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist of the U.S. Department of Labor and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

Currently, the BLS only considers limited statistics when reporting the unemployment rate.  Among the criticisms of the current system is that the BLS does not consider the difference of an active or passive search for employment; the mismanagement of the “U” system currently in place; evidence reflecting higher unemployment than presented; or changes in the labor market. Additionally, those who would be working under normal circumstances should be properly reflected in the unemployment report. 

Fitzpatrick’s legislation, the bipartisan Labor Statistics Improvement Act [H.R. 4171] which was introduced in the House Thursday, would establish a commission of four individuals with experience in the private sector, academia, federal service, or expertise in the economic market to examine the processes used by BLS to provide unemployment rates and make recommendations to Congress within six months.

“Each month news outlets report the jobs numbers as the definition of success or failure of the economy -unfortunately, these numbers often misrepresent the true situation,” added Fitzpatrick. “While the jobless rate may appear to be falling, it’s merely a statistical trick that ends up hurting the millions of Americans struggling in this economy – partially due to bad policy based on these numbers.”

“The decline in the unemployment rate to 6.7% gives the misleading impression that Americans are better off and the economy is recovering.  But the rate is low because discouraged Americans are leaving the labor force,” continued Furchtgott-Roth. “The labor force participation rate, now 63%, is now at 1978 levels, before the movement of millions of women into the labor market in the 1980s. This is not due to retirement of baby boomers, because labor force participation among the 55+ group has actually risen.  It is due to young people who cannot find jobs--and who are not in school.”

The bill currently has 5 bipartisan co-sponsors and has been recommended to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.                                       

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Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick is serving his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He represents Pennsylvania’s 8th district which includes all of Bucks County as well as a portion of Montgomery County. He serves as the Vice Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist of the U.S. Department of Labor, is director of Economics21 and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. She is a contributing editor of RealClearMarkets.com, and a columnist for the Washington Examiner, MarketWatch.com, and Tax Notes. From 2003 to 2005, Ms. Furchtgott-Roth was chief economist of the U.S. Department of Labor. From 2001 to 2002 she served as chief of staff of President George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers. Ms. Furchtgott-Roth served as deputy executive director of the Domestic Policy Council and associate director of the Office of Policy Planning in the White House under President George H.W. Bush from 1991 to 1993, and she was an economist on the staff of President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers from 1986 to 1987.