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The main MSM problem about employment measure is the use of the "unemployment" statistic which is, at best, highly misleading, both when comparing countries and when comparing years for a country.

I added a while ago on wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unemployment


For the fourth quarter of 2004, according to OECD, (source Employment Outlook 2005 ISBN 92-64-01045-9), normalized unemployment for men aged 25 to 54 was 4.6% in the USA and 7.4% in France. At the same time and for the same population the employment rate (number of workers divided by population) was 86.3% in the USA and 86.7% in France.

This example shows that the unemployment rate is 60% higher in France than in the USA, yet more people in this demographic are working in France than in the USA, which is counterintuitive if it is expected that the unemployment rate reflects the health of the labor market [10].

So you see that the social category who has the less social and economical potential reasons to be without job (male 25 to 54 year old) does better "super high unemployment France" vs "full employment overheating USA".

Compare this with MSM blurbs and population perception of the relative situation of the two countries work market.

For other categories, in particular old workers, I recommand reading article and comments from Dean Baker on the latest USA statistic release:

http://www.prospect.org/csnc/blogs/beat_the_press_archive?month=08&year=2007&base_name=new_d ata_on_income_and_poverty

[...] The article also noted the rise in incomes for people over age 65. At least part of the story is higher employment rates among older people. The employment to population ratio (EPOP) for people over age 65 rose from 23.1 percent in 2000 to 28.1 percent in 2006. This huge rise (more than 20 percent) in EPOPs is a good thing insofar as it is attributable to improved health and employment opportunities for people who want to keep working. It is not so good if it is due to the fact that more older people are finding that they cannot make ends meet without a job.

[... comments ...]

I don't think the SS earnings test had much to do with the change in EPOPs for older workers. It has risen by 3.4 percentage points for workers between ages 70 and 74 (13.1 percent to 16.5 percent), and there never was any earnings test for this age group.

One can easily imagine the real reason why 70-74 year old workers are going back to work in the USA, and in no small numbers: a 25% relative increase in 6 years.

ET diary:

http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2007/1/9/41455/23507

My blog article:

http://guerby.org/blog/index.php/2007/01/08/140-un-rappel-sur-la-definition-du-chomage

by Laurent GUERBY on Fri Aug 31st, 2007 at 07:01:26 AM EST

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