Tags: Marotta | unemployment | misery | Russell

Money Manager Marotta: True Unemployment Rate Totals 37.2 Percent

By Dan Weil   |   Wednesday, 22 Jan 2014 11:30 AM

Government figures understate the actual unemployment rate and misery index, says David John Marotta, president of Marotta Wealth Management in Charlottesville, Va.

He and colleague Megan Russell write in a commentary to clients that the true unemployment rate stands at a whopping 37.2 percent, rather than the 6.7 percent calculated by the government for December.

And the misery index, which adds together inflation and unemployment, totals 14.7, the worst in almost 40 years, rather than the 7.5 that would be derived using government data.

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The government's unemployment rate errs because it includes only the unemployed who are looking for a job, Marotta says.

His 37.2 percent reading "obviously includes some people who are not or never plan to seek employment," Marotta and Russell explain. "But it does describe how many people are not able to, do not want to or cannot find a way to work."

The government also understates inflation, because of "dubious accounting schemes," they say. It now actually totals 4.5 percent, Marotta and Russell argue. The government reported that consumer prices rose 1.5 percent last year.

Marotta uses 10.2 percent as the unemployment rate for the misery index, as that rate includes discouraged workers.

The misery index represents "significant economic hardship for the country," the duo writes.

Other experts offered mixed reactions after the government reported a decrease in jobless claims last week.

"The level of claims is now consistent with a healthy labor market turnover," Yelena Shulyatyeva, U.S. economist at BNP Paribas, tells Bloomberg.

"But companies are still reluctant to hire and invest, so that's the real issue. For the economy to accelerate, we need to see acceleration in hiring."

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