Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The No Labor/ Forced Labor Index

Well I'm not an economist, but it's a free country so if I choose I can create my own screwy statistic to show how bad things are right now. So ladies and gentlemen, without further adieu, it's the "No Labor/ Forced Labor Index"!

The basis of this statistic is that today it really stinks if you don't have a job. But before 1865, it really stunk if you had a job, but you were forced to do it for no pay. In other words, we're combining unemployment and slavery to formulate this index. Because today you can be out of work anywhere in America, but in 1860 you could only be a slave in some of the states, the No Labor/Forced Labor Index only is meaningful in a state like Georgia that had slavery. With that in mind, here's the formula:


Where: #OOWT is "Number of people out of work in Georgia today," #FLBT is "Forced labor in Georgia back then "(number of slaves listed on 1860 census), and NL/FL is, of course, the No Labor/Forced Labor Index.

We've now got 483,394 folks unemployed in Georgia. Back in 1860, the last census before the odious practice of slavery was ended, Georgia had 462,198 people held in forced labor. So, we have this figure:

483,394 / 462,198 = 1.05

When the index is over 1, you've got more people today looking for work than people back then forced to work. This is, of course, just a fancy way of saying we have more unemployed in Georgia now than we had slaves in 1860. But an economist would no doubt come up with a silly index to show this, so why can't I?

Yes, I know. The population of Georgia is much higher today than it was in 1860, so a half million people doing anything in 2009 is a much smaller percentage of the population than a similar number 150 years ago. So I'm not taking the No Labor/ Forced Labor Index too seriously.

But I'll tell you what I am taking very seriously: we're getting near a half million people out of work in a sunbelt state that doesn't have all the labor cost issues often cited for the economic decline of states like Michigan. Here's hoping we can turn things around and get people back to earning a paycheck.

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