If you managed to tear yourself away from the wild end of the Chargers-Patriots game last night, 60 Minutes had a revealing piece about the real state of the U.S. economy. Specifically, the real state of unemployment.
Reporter Scott Pelley visited Silicon Valley to talk to what he calls the “99ers” – unemployed Americans (the vast majority of his studio audience was white-collar workers) who have exhausted their 99 weeks’ worth of unemployment benefits. Now they face a financial future as perilous as anyone who lived through the Great Depression.
The individual stories were heartbreaking enough: One financial analyst who had been out of work for two years was still no closer to landing a job; a former Silicon Valley software engineer who once earned six-figures recently took a job at Target (Stock Quote: TGT) for $9.25 an hour. There was also the woman who has lived in her home for 28 years and now is three months away from foreclosure.
But while Pelley highlighted the emotional damage inflicted on the jobless, the numbers he rolled out told an equally harsh story.
For months, the official party line from Washington and the financial media was that the unemployment number was around 10%. But CBS finally put the real story in perspective – the “under-employment” number, which includes both unemployed workers, unemployed workers who’ve stopped looking for work, and part-time workers, is actually 17%, CBS reports. In California, the underemployment number is 22%.
“And what makes it so much worse is that, nationwide, one third of the unemployed have been out of work more than a year.” Pelley added, “that hasn't happened since the Depression.”