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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Do not collect $200

Posted by: Jambo / 12:29 AM

If every year or two I can pass along a tid bit of information that helps people look at things with a slightly different perspective I will consider blogging a success. This is my contribution for 2005 from the PM of Sweden, via Brad DeLong:

On unemployment, it is overlooked that the U.S. has approaching two million people in jail and out of the labor market."
This is something that has never ever occurred to me. The US brags that it is better off economically than all those "socialist" countries in Europe because our unemployment rate is lower than theirs. I have long known that our figures look lower than they really are because we don't count people that have given up looking for work as part of the unemployment rate but I had never stopped to consider the effect of having around 1% of our adult population behind bars. Clearly not all of those people would be unemployed if they were out on the street but surely they would be unemployed at far higher rates than the population as a whole. I suspect that an apples to apples comparison of US to foreign unemployment rates would not be quite as lop sided as we are generally led to believe. (I have no doubt our rate would still be lower, however. No doubt someone (Joseph perhaps?) will track down some relevant numbers in short order.)

Update: I'll track down my own numbers, thank you very much. To my surprise in 2004 the Swedish unemployment rate was 5.6% and the US rate was 5.5%. Take into account the factors above and the US is in WORSE shape on the employment front. One other interesting point: my source, the CIA World Fact Book, lists the percentage of Americans below the poverty line as 12% while it lists the rate in Sweden as "NA". Make of that what you will.


Doesn't everyone in Sweden work for Ericsson? I hadn't heard that Sweden struggled with unemployment. I thought France typically led the continent in unemployment.

By Blogger Hammer, at 8:07 AM  

Here are some EU unemployment stats. I didn't read through them very carefully, but it looks like Spain has the highest unemployment of the western European countries, and Norway the lowest.

Speaking of Norway -- if you ever want to be proud to be Norwegian, read The Last Place on Earth, in which a smart, prepared Norwegian is contrasted with a fatally incompetent British boob.

By Blogger Joseph, at 9:28 AM  

If I ever start up another band, I will push to have it named "Sweedish Unemployment Rate".


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:16 AM  

Not that it has anything to do with the topic but one of my all time favorite band names is the Gaza Strippers.

By Blogger Jambo, at 10:20 AM  

Funny band name list. Don't know why, but "Turkey Makes Me Sleepy" might be my favorite.

By Blogger Joseph, at 10:45 AM  

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