Abbott and Costello on Unemployment

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

ABBOTT: Good Subject. Terrible Times. It’s about 8 percent.

COSTELLO: That many people are out of work?

ABBOTT: No, that’s 16 percent.

COSTELLO: You just said 8 percent.

ABBOTT: 8 percent unemployed.

COSTELLO: Right 8 percent out of work.

ABBOTT: No, that’s 16 percent.

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

ABBOTT: No, that’s around 8 percent…

COSTELLO: Waits a minute. Is it 8 percent or 16 percent?

ABBOTT: 8 percent are unemployed. 16 percent are out of work.

COSTELLO: If you are out of work aren’t you unemployed?

ABBOTT: No, you can’t count the “Out of Work” as 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.


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 roles, that 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 8 percent. Otherwise it would be 16 percent. You don’t want to read about 16 percent unemployment do ya?

COSTELLO: That would be frightening.

ABBOTT: Absolutely.

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

ABBOTT: Two ways is correct.

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


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.

COSTELLO: I don’t even know what the hell I just said!–costello-take-on-the-real-unemployment-rate
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