Real California Unemployment Rate: 16.7%–Depression Level

While Obama and Brown giggle about lowered unemployment rates, the rest of California and America know they are misrepresenting the facts. In California the real unemployment figure (U-6 includes the unemployed, the underemployed and those wanting jobs but are discouraged from looking) is 16.7%. We know in our families, neighborhoods and among our friends, the unemployment rates are still at historic Depression level rates.

“There are just too many in this nation, and particularly in the Golden State, who are ignoring the U-6 measurement as the TRUE unemployment rate, either because it aligns with their political beliefs, or because this prolonged economic downturn doesn’t affect them much, or perhaps because they have no heart for those who are looking for “real” jobs and self-sufficiency.

As Obamacare and minimum wage increases take hold, energy and water costs skyrocket, expect the 16.7% to be a foundation not a high point—it will get worse.

From U-6 to Utah, Smug California Needs to Confront Its Shortcomings

Written by Ken Alpern, City Watch LA, 6/10/14

ALPERN AT LARGE-While my home is still the “Golden State”, it’s indeed time to question whether our gold is real or “Fool’s Gold”. After all, as its leaders and allied press corps like to proclaim, our budget is balanced, families are doing better, and our economy is recovering … which would be great if it were in any way, shape or form true.

Those of us born and bred in California like to believe we’re the center of the universe, and that other states could learn a thing or three from us.  We’re smart, and the others are ignorant … especially if their accent has a twang to it.  I remember growing up with that attitude, and then during my medical training in other states I discovered to my shock that it was I and my fellow Californians who were close-minded.

But the reality is that our REAL unemployment rate is 16.7%, not 8.6%, our state’s economy is really hurting, and families with children are especially hard-pressed … and with very little support from our so-called leaders.

WHAT, you say, our unemployment rate is HOW high?  Isn’t the recovery improving, that things are better, that we’re happier with Sacramento, etc.?  Well, of interest is that both liberal and conservative newspapers and websites have been noting two things:

1) Both in our Golden State and throughout the nation, joblessness is going down but it’s in large part due to low-paying jobs…so, “whoopee” for our so-called recovery!

2) Both in our Golden State and throughout the nation, an increased focus on the U-6 measurement (unemployed AND underemployed) is needed over the traditional U-3 measurement (unemployed only) to best learn how large our employment problem REALLY is.

There are just too many in this nation, and particularly in the Golden State, who are ignoring the U-6 measurement as the TRUE unemployment rate, either because it aligns with their political beliefs, or because this prolonged economic downturn doesn’t affect them much, or perhaps because they have no heart for those who are looking for “real” jobs and self-sufficiency.

Yet the need to demand more honesty from our government when it comes to real unemployment figures is as critical as learning the nutritional and caloric content of a food item, or of the percentage of income a non-profit uses for its stated purpose.

So let’s cut the nonsense about “we’re in a recovery” and go to a system that’s been reviewed and validated since 1940.

According to the United States Department of Labor, its Bureau of Labor Statistics (LINK: notes that while California has an 8.6% U-3 figure (the traditionally-reported unemployment rate) for the last year, its U-6 figure is 16.7%.

Only Nevada has a higher U-6 figure of 17.4%, and has a whopping U-3 figure of 9.4%.

Furthermore, LA County has a 9.4% U-3 figure and a whopping 18.6% U-6 figure.  For New York City, it’s an 8.5% U-3 figure and a 14.7% U-6 figure.

In contrast, the state of Utah (where I am now enjoying a family vacation) has a 4.4% U-3 rating and a 9.2% U-6 figure.  The U-3 and U-6 figures, respectively of Texas, is 6.0% and 11.2%; for Oregon it’s 7.6% and 15.8%; for Arizona it’s 7.9% and 16.1%.  In case you’re wondering, the lowest figures are in North Dakota with a U-3 of 2.7% and a U-6 of 5.5%.

So there are lots of national trends that are impacting both conservative and liberal states, both red and blue states–and it’s important to note that the abuse of “the unemployment rate” and the ignorance of the general American public of the U-6 rate, is something that predates both President Obama and his predecessor, George W. Bush.

And, bringing this back to our Golden State–which is in quite a “state” of denial and ignorance–the continued and ongoing departure of middle class retirees with their hard-earned wealth to other states, and the departure of those young and family-minded individuals to states with better employment prospects, spells BIG problems for California’s future.

Is it great that we could this year balance our budget and stop the hemorrhaging in Sacramento?

Yes, and while it could be argued that the Democratic Legislature should have worked with former Governor Schwarzenegger and done what it’s doing with current Governor Brown (perhaps because he is a Democrat), at least it IS being done now.

Yet there’s a difference between a short-term breather and a long-term trend.  We might ask ourselves what would have happened if Governor Brown’s tax hikes had occurred while the market wasn’t being propped up by the Fed (which will cost our children and grandchildren trillions), and we might ask ourselves what would happen if we took our pension deficits into account in Sacramento were it to create an honest, long-term budget.

It’s great that the capital gains taxes flooded our state’s coffers, but is it really that economically healthy to have a few rich investors prop this state’s budget up as we pursue the redevelopment of the smashed middle class?

It’s also great that we’re talking about immigration reform, but is reclassifying “illegal immigrants” as “undocumented migrants” really sending the right message to employers, legal immigrants and hard-working native-born Californians that they’ll get ahead if they play by the rules?  How does that paradigm affect our state’s economy?

And ditto for the UC and Cal State systems encouraging out-of-state students who pay higher tuition while ignoring the needs of taxpaying, native-born Californian students (of all ethnicities) so that they can attend an affordable college in this state.

Whether it’s the House GOP rejecting efforts of California Republican Rep. Jeff Denham to allow illegal immigrants the ability to achieve citizenship through participation in our armed forces, or the California Democratic Party choosing to not enforce our immigration laws because it’s politically inexpedient, it still hurts families and businesses who want to live in a state that has high and reliable standards and laws.

Similar to the laws we demand of planners and developers, who are among the uber-elite that are in bed with both Sacramento and Downtown LA powerbrokers, and who are thereby enabled to brazenly break the law and destroy what families need:  sustainable development, parks and middle-class jobs.

Laws?  Families?  Middle-class employment that actually pays the bills?  That stuff is for dreamers, I realize, but it’s something that California has yet to confront.  And other states HAVE confronted and ARE confronting these issues.  If a state consistently breaks one set of laws, it’ll get used to doing it with other laws.

The towns, cities, national parks and malls in Utah have, in contrast, been entirely family-friendly with a civility and kindness that recalls the California of my youth.  In Salt Lake City, gay couples and pierced/tattooed youths walk without harassment near the center of traditional Mormon culture…a culture that is borne of kindness, generosity and hard-working industry and that allows for a prosperous middle class.

California, meanwhile, is on its way to becoming a two-tiered system of the wealthy and the struggling poor–particularly for families with young children.  Parks and playgrounds are too few (particularly in the cities), and we have a majority of City of Los Angeles workers who choose not to live in the City while towing the Downtown line of overdevelopment and government by “overriding considerations” instead of by law.

(For example, does City Planning Chair Michael LoGrande still live in Long Beach, or did he move to LA as his Planning Department continues to enable the violation of law after law after law as overdevelopment is encouraged for political expediency?)

Our City of Los Angeles, county and state civil service are too frequently politically-appointed, instead of the once-great meritocracy that built our state and allowed trained and experienced engineers to speak truth to power and limit-set unrealistic and/or overpromising politicians.

In contrast, Salt Lake City has zones that are clearly residential, industrial and commercial.  There are no crossing gates to prevent idiots from illegally trying to outrace trains…motorists just know when to stop when the signs and lights flash.  And recreational/open space exists aplenty both in the country and in the cities.

Yet I’m sure there will be those who hate religious groups like Mormons enough to ignore all the good things that hard work and civility (and, yes, tolerance!) can do for a society.  And I’m sure that concerns about religious micromanagement will allow enough smug Californians who eschew open religious belief and morality to adhere to the “California is better” mentality.

Well, then perhaps we (in our smugness) can explain why we even have a bill being promoted by California state senator Kevin de Leon to require all students who have sex in state-run California colleges to reach a verbal or written mutual agreement before initiating such activity.  Is it consistent for California (in all its superiority over “backwards” religious states like Utah) to now have the state government enforce sexual morality?

And while questioning the legality or appropriateness of de Leon’s law, and all the problems of defining and enforcing it, might make its defenders claim it’s the only way we can avoid the abhorrent occurrences of on-campus rape, what’s next?  A legal requirement that sexual activity be initiated only after marriage?

So let’s get off our collective high horse, shall we, who call our Golden State home.  Our unemployment isn’t being solved, we’re at best having a brief moment of economic stability in Sacramento, and we treat our families like dirt (to say nothing of how we fail to prioritize children and young adults).

There ARE solutions to reducing illegal immigration (and the messages it sends to both workers and employers who violate the law, and to creating a society of laws) while focusing on education and hard work for those who are willing to acknowledge they broke the law but who truly want to be Americans (particularly because some are now fleeing here for their lives).

There ARE ways we can develop sustainable cities and create sustainable businesses and focus on jobs and families, instead of merely benefiting a wealthy and connected few, with ideas from both parties able to be reckoned with and confronted by both parties.

But the first step to solving our state’s problems is to acknowledge that we’ve GOT problems, and that they’re NOT being solved despite political and biased journalistic hoopla to the contrary.

And whether it’s learning about new figures like “U-6” or learning about how things are done in other states such as Utah, perhaps it is now WE in California who must now recognize OUR ignorance and become more educated to keep up with our modern-day and future challenges.


About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

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