Remember the phrase, "misery index?" The term was actually coined in the 1960s by a Johnson advisor and is the unemployment rate plus inflation rate. It became a common term during Jimmy Carter's administration.
The lowest misery rate was in 1953 at 3.7 percent, and the highest in 1980 at 20.8 percent. During the 64- year history, the average has been 9.5 percent. During the past four years, it has been as low as 8.9 percent to a high of 12.1 percent, with a four-year average of 10.6 percent.
Conveniently, food and energy are excluded from the inflation rate. They do this to keep the cost-of-living adjustment rate down to not have to increase Social Security benefits more than they have to. By some estimates, doing this lowers the actual number by as much as 7 percent.
So, add 7 percent for each of the last four years, our realistic misery index average is 17.6 percent. Notice how this is approaching 1980 levels. Those who are persistently unemployed or have run out of unemployment benefits are (once again) conveniently removed from the overall unemployment count.
Labor Department statistics show that our unemployment rate is now 4 percent higher than the number actually reported (7.8 percent), giving us a real world unemployment number of 11.8 percent. We can now add 4 percent to the actual average of 17.6 percent, giving us a misery index of 21.6 percent -- an all-time high. Maybe we should give President Obama a new title: Obama the Miserable.
Roddy D. Riggs