By John Paul Valdez

You would think the answer is obvious, but it is more subtle than you’d imagine at first glance. When you hear about seven percent unemployment right now, they are referring to the percent of the population that would normally be working right now. The elderly, retired persons, disabled people, persons that are not documented, and the long term unemployed (anyone not having a job within 26 weeks of their last employment) are NOT included in this figure.

Most economists put “full employment” at about a four percent unemployment figure to account for natural transitional workers moving from one job to another in a normally more prosperous economy.

Unfortunately, the exemptions from being counted in the unemployment figures here in California, and here in the Coachella Valley in particular make these numbers far from informative in any real proportional sense.


Also, please remember that the self-employed may go for many weeks without income, and that any persons not declaring some portion of their income are also NOT included in this figure.

So why use the number at all? Well, in order to bring up the subject at all, some standards had to be set, and they vary from place to place. Most people are simply unaware of the standard.

Right now, more than three times the number of persons are unemployed than has previously been the case, and therefore there are generally many applicants for a single job, making lower wages more common, and creating an atmosphere called “deflation.”

That is one reason why the federal government has been flooding the market with money, because the only danger in doing so is creating inflation, which is clearly not the case right now.

Also, persons on unemployment need to be remembered as having paid for unemployment insurance, and as supporting our economy by buying things with that money that would be otherwise missing and therefore devastating without the support, devastating to the family and to the local economy. California currently has 54 weeks of unemployment with a possibility of 99 weeks that is about to disappear if this congress doesn’t act in the next four days. Let’s hope they remember this state represents the single largest economy in the US, and that anyone would rather work for a higher wage than the wage that is represented by their crumby unemployment insurance coverage.

Americans are hard workers, and they have created the world’s largest middle class via their work. Giving up that middle class is not an accomplishment I’d want on my shoulders.