YOUNGSTOWN - A model for tracking America's true joblessness puts the nation's figure at 30.5 percent in August, not the official 9.6 percent, a Youngstown State University labor analyst said Friday.
The YSU report shows the need not only for more government stimulus spending but also for a national industrial policy that includes tariffs and incentives to encourage business research and development, said John Russo, co-director of YSU's Center for Working-Class Studies.
Russo urged "a lot more money" for job training and greater investment to repair aging roads, bridges and other infrastructure, along with a program to encourage companies to hire and keep their business in the U.S.
Tariffs and duties on foreign goods are needed to "level the playing field in terms of trade policy," Russo said. "We have to get our trade policy in order. We need fair trade instead of free trade."
He brushed aside the threat of a possible trade war in which other countries might retaliate by slapping tariffs on American goods.
"There might be (a trade war), but we don't have free trade right now. What are we arguing about as we lose all of our industries and manufacturing?" he said.
He cited a Bureau of Labor Statistics report that showed the Warren-Youngstown-Boardman area lost about 22,000 nonfarm jobs from January 2008 through August 2010, falling to 216,800.
The Working-Class Studies jobless report's jobless percentage is much higher than the official government tally because it includes marginally attached workers - people who have worked or looked for work in the last 12 months but not in the four weeks prior to the survey - along with discouraged workers who have looked for work in the 12 months before the survey. Neither group is counted in the labor force.
The YSU study also includes the underemployed - people who aren't able to get full-time jobs due to the economy; people on sick leave or early retirement; recipients of government aid, such as a low-wage worker getting Earned Income Tax Credits, or prison and jail populations.
Russo noted a recent development in which large numbers of workers have unexpectedly filed for Social Security before they have reached early retirement because they've given up looking for work and so aren't counted in the unemployment rate.
The 30.5 percent jobless rate may actually be low because it doesn't include would-be workers who choose to return to school after they can't find a job, Russo said.
He noted it's also hard to define prison populations or what constitutes a standing military. He said for the study, the total number of service men and inmates represents people not in the labor market.
The Working-Class Studies jobs report showed a 20.01 percent unemployment rate in December 2007, which is judged to be the start of the deepest recession in 70 years. The study peaked at 31.2 percent in December 2009.
Excluding the military and prison populations, the study's jobless rate was 26.9 percent for August versus a peak of 28.35 percent in December 2009.