During the Great Depression that ran from 1929 to 1939 unemployment in the U.S. reached 25%. Official unemployment in the U.S. today, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is 8.2% however the true number is a staggering 22.2%.
The huge different between the official government number and the one calculated by John Williams, of Shadow Government Statistics, is that the official number is heavily manipulated.
The official figure, the one the media report and focus on, is known as “U-3”. The problem however is that the U-3 unemployment figure excludes those that are underemployed, i.e. they have had their hours cut by their employer, and those that have given up looking for work because none can be found.
The BLS not only publishes the official U-3 unemployment rate, it actually publishes a range of alternative measures titled U-1 through to U-6.
The U-6 unemployment figure (currently 14.5%) is the broadest measure because it includes the unemployed populace, plus those that are underemployed, and those that have given up looking for work. This is the figure John Williams uses to ascertain the true U.S. unemployment rate.
Williams calculates the unemployment rate the way it used to be calculated before government tinkering began to systematically reduce it. Williams takes the U-6 figure and adds to it the number of long-term discouraged workers (who were defined out of official existence in 1994) and comes up with his SGS Alternate Unemployment Rate which peaked last year but is still 22.2%. Not far off the level seen in the U.S. during the Great Depression.