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TheStreet Open House

How I Screwed Up the Unemployment Numbers

When employers say they're reluctant to hire, it may just mean they don't want the commitment of a 40-hour employee, along with handling the taxes and benefits that entails. It's not just the paying and the paperwork, but the responsibility for that person's full time that's at issue. Because I'm much more productive working for several employers than I could ever be working for one.

When I cash a check for myself, I then send 50% of the total to state and federal tax officials. I pay my own social security taxes, my Medicare, and I pay the employer's piece, too.

That's before I pay for health insurance, or add money to my retirement account. The full cost of your employment, and accounting for it, should be twice what you're paying yourself especially if, like me, you have ADHD and have to pay someone else to do the accounting.

Despite this, I've had a wonderful work life, and I think my friends and relatives have as well. If just 3% of the labor force lives the way I do --and I think that's underestimating it -- the real unemployment rate may be closer to 4% than the 7.3% being reported.

What about the breadwinners now at McDonald's (MCD) or Wal-Mart (WMT) , earning minimum wage? I suspect most are people who worked for decades and just haven't figured out the new economy, who don't know how to market their skills, take short-term work and piece work, and cobble together a new economy life for themselves.

The fact is that "getting a job" is no longer the way the economy works. Getting busy, getting some assignments, and catching some work is the way it works. We're all entrepreneurs, working in businesses with one employee, and that's not a bad thing.

Unless you're reading the unemployment statistics, the economy has mostly recovered.

At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and a tech reporter since 1982. His specialty has been getting to the future ahead of the crowd, then leaving before success arrived. That meant covering the Internet in 1985, e-commerce in 1994, the Internet of Things in 2005, open source in 2005 and, since 2010, renewable energy. He has written for every medium from newspapers and magazines to Web sites, from books to blogs. He still seeks tomorrow from his Craftsman home in Atlanta.
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