Unemployment Rate Hits 106%

The leek: a satirical take

By Horace Heller Hedley, IV

Washington D.C.

In a stunning development expected to have far-reaching economic and political fallout, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the unemployment rate has reached an unprecedented 106 percent. The revelation has overturned conventional wisdom in economic and political circles, and left experts scrambling to make sense of its causes and probable impact.

“What the ****** ***** happened down there?” gasped Mark Ridgefield of Gotham Capitol Investment, in a typical response to the astounding report. “Those stats guys must have smoked something extra strong in a small office with the windows shut.”

In fact, the new 106 percent unemployment rate stems from a little publicized change in the statistical method used to calculate the overall figure. The novel unemployment index aims for a more nuanced picture of quality of life than is possible with a raw percentage figure. The new adjusted jobless figure, known as Unemployment: National Indexed Metric of Productive Endeavor (UNIMOPE) estimates the true social value of each job in the economy using several qualitative variables. Jobs deemed detrimental to the overall well-being of the community are assigned a negative weight. For example, Technical Support Specialist for Dell Computer receives a weighted value of negative 12 (-12), signifying that this job creates economic disruption and poor health outcomes equivalent to approximately 12 unemployed persons.

“Well, I’m not all that surprised,” said Janet Tucker, Policy Rescindment Specialist with Aetna Health Insurance, upon learning that her own job counts as 37 unemployed people on the UNIMOPE index. “Mine is not exactly what you’d call a feel-good job. Plus, the whole department shuts down in 2014 unless Obama loses. Of course we’re all frantically applying for transfers to other departments. But I doubt that Customer Premium Expansion or Federal Legislation Enhancement can absorb all of us.”

Some economists have suggested a novel approach to managing the extreme UNIMOPE figure. “If the one-tenth of U.S. employees with the most toxic jobs just up and quit, this adjusted unemployment figure would improve to about 3 percent–basically full employment,” said Rebecca Collier of Global Prognostications.

This suggestion does not sit well with those jobholders. “Obviously some half-wit Economics professor is up for tenure,” fumed Ron Whitman, Sales Manager for Pre-Owned Vehicles at a KIA dealership in Benton Harbor, Michigan. “Give me his address–I’ll send him my electric bill.”

Surprisingly, however, the new index does not appear to have been the work of a professional economist.  An unpublished essay from 2011 outlining identical statistical procedures has recently come to light.  Its author, Jillian McKenzie, 22, expressed astonishment at the impact of her work. “It’s mine alright—my final paper for Econ 318.  I mean, it was OK—I got an A-.  But damn…I was a Communications major.  And if they’re so crazy about my paper, where’s my job offer?”

All await the impact of this new unemployment figure on the hotly contested presidential race. In the hours since UNIMOPE was introduced, conservative-leaning media outlets have been reporting a 98 percent spike in the unemployment rate during the Obama administration. Rush Limbaugh attributes the sudden downturn to the Supreme Court’s recent decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act. “Obamacare has arrived. The U.S. economy is dead on that arrival.  Employment in this country has met its death panel.”

Such comments drew a heated response from White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. “They are comparing apples, to…hell…it’s not even oranges.  It’s not even edible.  It’s like transmission parts or something!”

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) held firm.  “The Republican Party refuses to allow the Democrats to use antiquated measurement tools and statistical trickery to conceal its jobs disaster from the American people.”

(This article was originally published by North of Center.)

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