What About Adjusting for Population?

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Labor Department reported Thursday that the number newly laid off workers applying for benefits dropped to 601,000 last week. That was far better than the rise to 635,000 claims that economists expected. But the total number of people receiving jobless benefits climbed to 6.35 million, a 14th straight record.

MP: There’s one small problem with the bold statement above: The population of the U.S. has roughly doubled since the 1950s, so comparisons of today’s unemployed (unadjusted) to past periods is meaningless without adjusting for the population. The chart above shows that the current number of unemployed (6.2 million average for April) is about 2% of the current U.S. population (estimated 306.56 million for April), which is still below the 2.12% level in 1975. So the claim of a 14th straight record for Americans receiving jobless benefits is not accurate, after adjusting for the size of the U.S. population.

About Mark J. Perry 262 Articles

Affiliation: University of Michigan

Dr. Mark J. Perry is a professor of economics and finance in the School of Management at the Flint campus of the University of Michigan.

He holds two graduate degrees in economics (M.A. and Ph.D.) from George Mason University in Washington, D.C. and an MBA degree in finance from the Curtis L. Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.

Since 1997, Professor Perry has been a member of the Board of Scholars for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a nonpartisan research and public policy institute in Michigan.

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