This article was originally published on Humorality, on March 22, 2010.
Give or take, um, perhaps 50 percent? 60 percent?
Numbers issued this morning by the US Labor Department showed a sudden increase in the total count of unemployed Americans, rising sharply from 10.1 percent to 526.8 percent. Experts in the Obama administration and at several private think tanks in some of the more upscale parts of Washington, DC, called the new numbers “unexpected.”
“It’s unexpected, I tell you; simply unexpected,” said Herb Statisting, a number cruncher with the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, which as expected is as boring as it sounds. “Back in the numbers room, we were expecting 10.3 percent, perhaps even 8.7 percent. Frank threw $20 into the office betting pool with a guess of 524 percent. What a dweeb. But we never saw this coming. They just don’t teach you this kind of stuff in statistics school.”
“We were expecting this,” said President Barack Obama during a healthcare victory speech and hot dog feed in Virginia. “If you get enough people in enough states losing enough jobs for enough months, you can easily get to 526.8 percent unemployment. But with the policies we’ve put in place for pushing our healthcare agenda, we expect those numbers to settle back down into the low 700-percent range by summer.”
When the president unexpectedly won the election in November 2008, the unemployment rate had unexpectedly risen to 6.5 percent from an unexpected low of 4.5 percent just one year earlier. “Combine that with the unexpected victory of The Hurt Locker for Best Picture, and you have a perfect storm of unusual labor statistics,” said Fred Rogers, the well-regarded children’s television host whom nobody expected to weigh in on the jobs situation, given that he died unexpectedly over seven years ago.
The unemployment rate is a fairly simple calculation that takes the total number of unemployed workers divided by the total workforce. For instance, if 20 million employable Americans out of 200 million total were out of work, that would represent a ten percent unemployment rate. “The problem last month was that the number of total workers dropped dramatically due to the release of several awesome XBox 360 games and anticipation about the final season of Lost,” said Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who unexpectedly had a middling grasp on the full situation. “Plus, we started including the unemployed populations of Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Mr. Statisting expected the numbers to stabilize over the next few months, “but don’t hold us to that. It’s not like we’re experts or anything.”