Unemployment Statistics & Lies

One of the running discussions I have with my friend Mark is about the unemployment numbers and why they don’t reflect what we see with other friends and co-workers. We both know of quite a few people who have stopped looking for work or who have taken part-time jobs to make ends meet. Both of these groups of people are not counted in the unemployment number, however the effect of thier actions does reflect on the actual health of the economy. This running conversation has been going on for years.

This past weekend I read an article on unemployment. The article referenced the U-6 measurement. Whoa. What’s that? So today I did some googleing to find out more on the U-6 measurement.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics actually tracks 6 measures of unemployment. Three of those measure jumped out at me and literally made me think “Here’s the real story….”. The three measures that painted the picture are the U-1, U-3 and U-6.

The average unemployment figure (U-3) for 2011 was 8.9%.  5.3% of the umemployed people could expect to remain unemployed for 4 months or longer (U-1).  And in 2011 15.9% of the US workforce was effected by unemployment is some manner (U-6). Yes. Antidotally, this is what I believe the average American is experiencing in the labor market.

What are these measures:

  • U-1 -> Unemployed for 15 weeks or longer
  • U-2 -> Job loser and person who completed temporary job
  • U-3 -> This is the traditional unemployment figure
  • U-4 -> Unemployed plus discouraged workers who are no longer lookin
  • U-5 -> U-4 plus marginally attached worker
  • U-6 -> U-5 plus underemployed workers

Go to the BLS web site to read the definitions yourself.

Why does the U-1, U-3 annd U-6 measures really tell the story?

U-3 is what’s reported in the news everyday. It is the baseline off of which you can ccompare the other two measurements.

There are quite a few guys I know who have been unemployed for months. Thier unemployment has run out. The U-1 measure speaks to these people who have been out for a long time.

There are also a lot of people who have taken jobs outside of thier field or are part-time. These people are technically working, but are underemployed. There are also people who have given up looking for work. In a healthy economy they would be changing jobs or at the very least actively looking for work.

The unemployment averages for 2011:

U-1 U-3 U-6
US 5.3% 8.9% 15.9%
NJ 6.2% 9.4% 16.0%
NY 5.0% 8.1% 14.3%

 The current unemployment figures for March 2012:

U-1 U-3 U-6
4.6% 8.2% 14.5%

It has been awhile since I could honestly say that something our government is doing has impressed me. I am impressed with the statistics the US Bureau of Labor is providing. These statistics actually parallel what myself and friends perceive to be occuring in the job market.

Bluetooth Headsets

I’ve been wanting to get a blue tooth stereo headset to complement the Droid.  I really like the sound quality the Droid has, but hated the dangling wires that came with the ear buds.  Wired headsets were worse, because they would slide off my head when I was in a middle of an activity.

Last month for my birthday the kids bought me the Motorola S9 headsets.  I have to say it was a great birthday present.  They work great, they sound great and they are very light weight.  There are three buttons on each side of the headphones to control music play, volume and to answer incoming calls.

When I go jogging, biking or hiking, the head set stays firmly in place.  Ever try jogging with ear buds?  Forget it, they were constantly falling out.  These headphones stay in place.  If your looking for a new toy to add to your Droid, this headset is definitely worth the money.

Droid Apps

After two months of using the Droid, I thought I would review the apps that I find the most helpful and fun.  First and foremost it is a phone, I’m very happy with the quality of calls and the quality of the built-in speaker.  I configured the contacts app when I first got the phone and haven’t thought twice about it.  The voice dial app took a little bit of trial and error to find the right phrases to use to quickly get the phone numbers to come up.  Of course the voice dial app provides all sorts of examples to help you quickly figure it out, but that would require reading on my part.  RTFM – No Way!  The messaging and email apps are used through out the day.  Occasionally (once per week) I find the email app will stop communicating with Comcast.  The quick solution is the Advance Task Killer app.  This app will kill off processes running in the background that are consuming battery life while offering nothing in return.  As it kills off these background processes, it also causes the email app to fully reload the next time I open it.  This is an ok temporary solution until an update is available for the email app.  The other two apps I have residing on the middle screen is the Facebook app and The Weather Channel.  The Weather Channel app is a must have.  I’ve got five different cities entered so with three taps on the screen I can have the current weather for anyone of the cities.  One more tap and I have the 10 day forecast.

On my left screen I have music and imusic app to help organize my playlists.  I find that I use the built in music app for playback.  I also have Google Sky.  This app allows you to hold up your phone to see what stars you are looking at.  I like to take the Google Sky app at night and point it to the ground to show the kids where the Sun is currently.  I also have Astro, which provides a file manager type of screen to access the memory card.  I would have thought an app like Astro would have been included as a base app to manage the data on the phone.  To round out the left screen I also installed 10001 Cocktails.  Of course the database doesn’t include 100001 cocktails, but it has the majority of mixed drinks and cocktails one would order.  Now why would I have this app when I always just rely on the bartender?  I don’t know, but it is a fun app to have.

On the right hand screen I have the app Where.  This is a pretty cool app, but I find I don’t use it as much as I thought I would have.  I also have my prime decision making tool, “Magic Eight-ball” app installed.  The original Magic Eight-ball was undoubtedly the best decision support tool and arguably the most accurate decision support tool ever made.  I also have a quirky tech app called tricorder.  This app provides you with information like your current GPS location, the nearest cell tower and all the wifi access points that are reachable.  It also analysis the surrounding sound levels.   Usefulness of this app – none.  Fun factor – priceless.  I also have Newspaper on the right hand screen.  This app allows me to pull up news from several dozen different newspapers from around the country.

The one app that I thought had great potential, but never lived up to it….Key Ring.  This app allows you to scan all those annoying customer shopping cards.  In theory you are suppose to be able to bring the card up and just scan the phone.  In reality the food store scanners don’t like the back lit glass screens.

The one piece of functionality that I don’t use – the camera.  It takes ok pictures, but whenever the need arises for taking photos, usually I have one of the digital cameras handy.

Grrrr – I was klutzy this weekend

Saturday it was beautiful here on the Jersey Shore.  The temp was in the 70’s with blue sky.  I decided to work on the one Jetski.  I still have the engine apart because of the cracked water jacket.  I have two new water jackets with the exhaust manifold all ready to go on.  Cylinders are all honed.  I cut the rave exhaust valves to clear the pistons.  Everything was all set.

As I was setting the water jackets on the lower half of the engine, I let one piston slip and hit the exhaust baffle.  Boop went a piece of the ring on  the one piston.  Damn.  Now I’m waiting until March 20th when the new rings should arrive.  After the incident I decided to replace all the rings in the engine.

After I messed up the piston ring, I decided to replace the VTS motor.  This is a small electric motor that raises and lowers the angle of the jet pump.  The old motor had died and the case was corroded.  It was easy to replace.  Now I have to wait to finish getting the engine back together before I can test the VTS motor.

I fully expect to have both machines back into the water before this month is over.  I’m just very frustrated with myself for being a damn klutz.

The Home Network

Lately I’ve been on a kick upgrading the computers in the house.  Most of the machines are dual Xeons with 4Gb or 8Gb of ram.  I just added a 1.5Tb drive to one machine that was running out of space.  It had a 40gb drive in it and it was full.  I went through looking to dump what ever I could, but it only amounted to a few Gb free.

I also had to add a 8-port switch.  I have a 16-port switch downstairs where I have the server gear, but I need more ports in the den.  I’m wondering if it was a good idea to go with the 8-port switch and not the 16-port switch.  At the time the store I was in only had the 8-port switch and I didn’t feel like driving around.

The one purchase that I made that has just proven itself to be so valuable was a D-Link print server.  It can handle up to 4 printers.  I know, it was a simply thing to add, but what a difference to be able to print from anywhere.  I’ve got the laser printer and the Epson photo printer attach to it.  The only bummer is that I have to go into the den to turn the printers on if I want to print.  A lot of the times I’m in the family room with the laptop and have to walk to the other end of the house. Yes, on occasion I get lazy and yell for one of the kids to turn on the printer or retrieve the printouts for me.

The one box that I haven’t upgrade is the Apple G4.  I did add some ram to bump it to 4Gb.  That box has found some new life with my daughter.  She likes to play her games on it.  She likes the idea of having a machine that is basically only used by her.

That leads me to another thought.  I am amazed at the kids.  I have XP, Vista, Mac OS X and Fedora Linux in the house on various machines.  Majority of the boxes run Linux, from Fedora Core 5 to Fedora 10.  But it doesn’t matter to them.  They jump from box to box without thinking about the operating system.  Most adults I know have issues running a single operating system.  Not them.  Its seamless to them.  I cant help but wonder what the technology will be like when they are adults and start having difficulty adopting to it.

White House Website

Have to say I am impressed with the new White House website. Each president has control over the website.  In the past this site has not been a significant source of information on what is occurring within our government.  The new website that President Obama has put up is very informative.  The new administration is utilizing technology to really provide transparency.  The full legislative agenda is on the site along with any executive orders and proclamations.  You can also see all the appointments he has made.  In the past I would not have know where to go to begin to find this information.

To provide full disclosure, I did not vote for President Obama.  I felt that he didn’t have enough experience to provide the leadership we needed.  Over the past few months, I have to admit, he has won me over.

Check out the new site.  It’s a very pleasant surprise.

Time Warp

First off – I can not believe almost 2 months has gone by since my last post!!

The month of April was busy and the month of May is looking to be just as bad. Oh, wait, next week is the end of May. It real has been as bad a April!!

A lot has happened in the past 2 months. Dave & I completed the Troop trailer and we’ve taken it on 2 camping trips. Both camping trips were a success. Cathy &I decided the 98′ Honda Accord was near the end of its life. So with 259K miles on it and before it began to wear out mechanically, we traded it in for a Honda Ridgeline. I’ve had the new car for three weeks and love it. This past weekend was the second spring camping trip with the scouts. I ended up towing the troop trailer with the Ridgeline. Absolutely no issues, it was great.

I’ve got photos of the different trips with the Scouts. As I get them posted, I’ll included them in a few posts and try to catch back up!!

As far as diving goes, I haven’t even had time to look at my gear. Forget about actually getting into the water. Hopefully, maybe within the next week or two I’ll coax Mark into a quick dive……

Our Economy and Peak Oil

In 1956 Dr Hubbert developed a model to predict the point at which US oil would reach the peak output and begin to decline. His theory is referred to as “Peak Oil” or “Hubbert’s Peak Oil”. Hubbert predicted that domestic oil production would begin to decline between 1965 and 1970. US Domestic oil production peaked in 1970. Of course at the time everyone denied that it had peaked. To read more on peak oil on wikipedia: Hubbert Peak Oil

Even Dick Cheney, our beloved vice-president has acknowledged the problem of peak oil: Dick Cheney on Peak Oil

Researchers have taken his model and used it to estimate the world peak oil. Pessimistic estimates put world peak oil somewhere between 2008 and 2011. Optimistic estimates put world peak oil somewhere around 2020 and 2030.

Now think about this. Essentially we areeither just at peak oil or within 10 years we will be at that point. Our entire economy is based on oil, this includes more than heating our homes and transportation. It also include the manufacture of most plastics, cosmetics and polymers! The effort to move our economy to another energy source and to re-develop our manufacturing base will be an enormous effort!!

The high gas prices we see today are only the beginning. Gas will continue to fluctuate, we may even see $2 a gallon for a short period of time. However for the near term $3 to $4 a gallon will be more the norm. Add some more instability in the oil producing regions and $5 to $6 for a gallon of gas is possible.

What I find aggravating is the Politicians and Corporate America choose to remain blissfully ignorant of the pending problem. By the time they wake up to the problem, itwill be us, the individuals, who will be hurt.

Ruby on Rails Rocks

The title of the post is over used a bit, but it is accurate. I’ve been playing with Ruby on Rails for the past few weeks. Ruby is an interpreted scripting language. Rails is a framework built on Ruby for Ruby to develop web based applications. Ruby on Rails really simplifies the building of web applications.

I’ve played with PHP. In fact WordPress, which powers this blog, is written in PHP. I never liked the amount of HTML coding that I had to embedded into PHP. It always seemed like I was writing in two languages that were intertwined.

The Rails framework really reduces the amount of HTML coding that you have to worry about. It doesn’t remove it, but it reduces it to a point where I can focus on the application functionality.

If you want to build a web application and haven’t chosen the technology, take a moment and look at Rails.