Economist: Unemployment is actually 19.1%

John Williams, consulting economist and publisher of, says that the U.S. unemployment rate  would actually be 19.1 percent if it were calculated the same way it was during the Great Depression. The Labor Department reports an official rate of 8.1 percent as of February 2009. (“Statician says US joblessness near Depression highs,” Reuters, March 9, 2009)

Williams’s site publishes the following chart showing the jobless trend:

Courtesy of

Joblessness reached 25 percent durign the great depression. However,according to Reuters, Williams notes that 

… the Depression peak itself may have been underestimated because it was restricted to “non-farm” payrolls at a time when agricultural labor still represented more than a quarter of the economy.

AB — 10 March 2009

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