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When will Census Bureau update its misleading antiquarian employment statistic criteria? March 31, 2008

Posted by Daniel Downs in economy, employment, family, Income, law, politics, United States.

As indicated by the above title, this post is an unofficial-official complaint against the U.S. Census Bureau’s antiquated criteria for assessing the employment status of Americans. As I was gathering information for a near-future positing, I remembered a long-standing criticism bouncing around in my memory: Why in the heck does the U.S. Census Bureau still count 16 to 18 years of age Americans on census surveys and estimates? In our agrarian society of the 1700 and 1800s, this information was no doubt relevant. We, however, live in an 21st century secular and urban society. Young people between the ages of 16 and 18 are required by law to be in school. This law, by the way, is one modeled on Prussian socialist totalitarianism. Anyway, including 16 to 18 year olds in employment statistics is misleading and gives a false statistical snapshot of U.S. employment.

In the Current Population Survey, for example, civilian non-institutional population data includes persons 16  years of age and older residing in the 50 States and the District of Columbia who are not inmates of  institutions (for example, penal and mental facilities, homes for the aged), and who are not on active duty in  the Armed Forces.

What is wrong with this picture? I’ll tell you. Schools are institutions. For some 16 to 18 year olds, schools are like prisons or mental institutions. I’m sure I got a few amens. Schools are institutions of employment for this age group. Therefore, the Bureau’s criteria of employed persons is antiquated and irrelevant. For the Bureau defines employed persons as those who are 16 years and over in the non-institutional civilian population.

True, some 16-18 year olds do work part-time jobs. Because the local, state and federal governments want them to share in the privilege of paying taxes for service whether useful or not, the the Census Bureau no doubt feels obligated to include them in employment statistics. I agree equality under the law is a good thing when it’s lawful.

Many of those teenagers work part-time because their parents cannot afford to give them spending money. So, instead to doing their homework and having a little fun with friends, those thrifty teens work. Thus they depend of the highly regulated free market to give an allowance for the those nicer things in life like computers, clothes, cars, and the like.

You know they have got to love their paternal government and corporate nannies.

According to Census Bureau data, this age group makes up about 16% of all Americans not in the work force, about 5% of all employed persons, and 16% of the unemployed. Viewed another way (that they shouldn’t be included), the percent of working age adults would increase from 66% to 68% and unemployment would decrease from 4.5% to 3.9%. Seeing that this age group is institutionalized at least 6-8 hours a day most of the year, changing their status would reduce the non-institutional population by 7%, eliminate about 4.7% of labor force error, reduce about 4% of the error in the employed persons statistic (given that teens rely of the System for an allowance for doing their chores), and the number of the unemployed would drop 16%.

Don’t take this wrong; I think it is good for teenagers to work and earn spending money. Being able to buy some of the stuff they want part of that ancient rite of passage into adulthood. After all, how can America expect them to become good citizen consumers? I think they should do more work for their parents to get at least some of that consumer cash. It is parents who are in need of more spending power by which to pass some of it on to their belaboring teenagers. Whether for work around the home front or for college, it is parents not teens who need more cash flow.

When then will the U.S. government make sure that they do?



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