“Who’s on First?”

The purpose of my blog is to help you become a better leader with a balanced life/work. We cannot separate where are business/life work will be tomorrow without understanding how regulations/reports influence our life/work. You may find the following interesting.

One of the greatest comedy skits of all time is Abbot and Costello’s “Who’s on First.”  (If you’re too young to have seen this classic, click here for a 3 minute version of this immortal routine).   The only thing that might be more confusing than “Who’s on First” is how the unemployment rate is calculated.  Someone has recast the debate about how employment should be measured as though Abbot and Costello were arguing about it…..I’m not sure it clears up the confusion about this important statistic but it makes it much more fun to read about!!

COSTELLO: I want to talk about the unemployment rate in America.

ABBOTT: Good subject. Terrible times. It’s about 9%.

COSTELLO: That many people are out of work?

ABBOTT: No, that’s 16%.

COSTELLO: You just said 9%.

ABBOTT: 9% Unemployed.

COSTELLO: Right 9% out of work.

ABBOTT: No, that’s 16%.

COSTELLO: Okay, so it’s 16% unemployed.

ABBOTT: No, that’s 9%…

COSTELLO: WAIT A MINUTE. Is it 9% or 16%?

ABBOTT: 9% are unemployed. 16% are out of work.

COSTELLO: If you are out of work you are unemployed.

ABBOTT: No, you can’t count the “Out of Work” as the unemployed. You have to look for work to be unemployed.

COSTELLO: But … they are out of work!

ABBOTT: No, you miss my point.

COSTELLO: What point?

ABBOTT: Someone who doesn’t look for work can’t be counted with those who look for work. It wouldn’t be fair.

COSTELLO: To who?

ABBOTT: The unemployed.

COSTELLO: But they are ALL out of work.

ABBOTT: No, the unemployed are actively looking for work…Those who are out of work stopped looking. They gave up. And, if you give up, you are no longer in the ranks of the unemployed.

COSTELLO: So if you’re off the unemployment rolls, which would count as less unemployment?

ABBOTT: Unemployment would go down. Absolutely!

 COSTELLO: The unemployment just goes down because you don’t look for work?

ABBOTT: Absolutely it goes down. That’s how you get to 9%.Otherwise it would be 16%. You don’t want to read about 16% unemployment do ya?

COSTELLO: That would be frightening.

ABBOTT: Absolutely.

COSTELLO: Wait, I got a question for you. That means they’re two ways to bring down the unemployment number?

ABBOTT: Two ways is correct.

COSTELLO: Unemployment can go down if someone gets a job?

ABBOTT: Correct.

COSTELLO: And unemployment can also go down if you stop looking for a job?

ABBOTT: Bingo.

COSTELLO: So there are two ways to bring unemployment down, and the easier of the two is to just stop looking for work.

ABBOTT: Now you’re thinking like an economist.

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About budjohnson

Mr. Johnson is a Vistage Chair in the Houston Metropolitan area for CE Group 3502, and HR Key Group 9139. In addition Mr. Johnson is the Co-Founder of the Accelerated Professional's program designed to help young professionals become "Business Savvy.....Presentation Capable. Mr. Johnson also works with private equity investors to evaluate corporate opportunities.
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2 Responses to “Who’s on First?”

  1. Kenton Lewis says:

    Economics made simple.

  2. thej85 says:

    Who’s on first was required reading in middle school for me….

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