For many economy-watchers and investors, the nonrelease of jobs data due to the government shutdown is a big problem. How can they know how the economy is doing? Don't worry, we've got you covered.
Investor's Business Daily has been polling Americans each month on the job market for well over a decade. Unlike the numbers released each month by the Labor Department, ours haven't been crunched, tweaked, twisted, seasonally adjusted or otherwise tortured to tell a comforting story.
In October, our jobs data continued to tell a consistent story about the economy under President Obama's disastrous policies. And it isn't pretty.
The government's official unemployment report in September showed 11.3 million people, or about 7.3% of the labor force, without jobs. Not good, but not disastrous, right?
Well, those data exclude a lot of people — particularly the millions of discouraged workers who have simply given up looking for a job. So the real unemployment number is bigger — a lot bigger.
In our IBD/TIPP Poll, we ask a different question: "How many members of your household are currently unemployed and are looking for employment?"
Not surprisingly, the answer we get differs greatly from the government's data. This month's survey, completed Thursday night, indicated that 47.9 million Americans are looking for work. No, that's not a misprint: 47.9 million.
Out of a workforce of 154 million, that yields a gross unemployment rate of 31%. Among all households, 26% have at least one member looking for work.
We also find data on "Job-Sensitive Households" — those with one or more people looking for work plus those saying they're "concerned" about a member of the household losing a job. That number is 31%, up from 23% as recently as April.
Our country's labor markets, in short, are in far worse shape than you've been led to believe.
Government reports in recent months have shown gains of fewer than 200,000 jobs — mediocre at best. Still, experts in Washington and on Wall Street speak of a "firming." Our data, however, show no such thing.
Our survey, unlike the Labor Department's, reflects those Americans who have sunk so deeply into economic despair they are no longer counted by the government. This is a more realistic gauge of unemployment, and we are not alone in our findings.
The venerable Gallup Poll's "Underemployment Rate" — measuring both the unemployed and part-time workers who want to work full-time — stood at 17.1% in September, up from 15.9% in October 2012.
The job "recovery" under Obamanomics is now in its 43rd month, the longest it's taken since before Truman's time for the economy to return to its previous employment peak. And we're still millions of jobs away.
In delaying the official jobs report, the government shutdown may be doing us all a favor by exposing a truly dark employment picture that otherwise wouldn't see the light of day.