Screwing with the Unemployment Statistics

Dave Lindorff

Unemployment benefits application line at noon running for half a block out onto the sidewalk in Brooklyn, NY (photo by Tricia Wang 王圣捷 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Something is screwy about unemployment numbers coming out of Washington.

In late July, just before the end of the supplemental $600 weekly checks for people collecting unemployment benefits, the New York Times reported that 30 million were receiving those checks.

That’s 30 million laid-off workers who qualified for unemployment benefits, which is not everyone who was laid off, since many people who get work for a wage don’t qualify for unemployment compensation.Read More »


How Many People has the Coronavirus Killed?

Giuliana Viglione

Nature | September 01, 2020

A cemetery worker digging a grave in a site surrounded by newly dug graves covered in memorials and flowers

A worker digs a grave in a cemetery near Mexico City as the coronavirus outbreak continues. Credit: Edgard Garrido/Reuters

At the beginning of March, Andrew Noymer felt a familiar twinge of doubt. He was watching countries across Europe and North America begin to record their first deaths from COVID-19, and he knew there could be problems with the data. Even in a normal winter, some deaths caused by influenza get misclassified as pneumonia. If that can happen with a well-known disease, there were bound to be deaths from COVID-19 going unreported, thought Noymer, a demographer at the University of California, Irvine. “I just remember thinking, ‘this is going to be really difficult to explain to people’,” he recalls.

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