Meaningful Unemployment Figures

THOUGH MOSTLY EMPTY GESTURES, the final version of the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Bill—passed by the Congress in mid-October of 1975 and promising simultaneous reduction of unemployment to 4 percent and of inflation to 3 percent by 1983, a balanced budget, a trade surplus, and, for good measure, higher farm subsidies—still contained one bit of serious mischief. It committed the United States to the traditional unemployment index.

For years it had been known to everyone dealing with economic statistics that this measurement, as it came down to us from the Great Depression, had become meaningless ...

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