Abbott and Costello talk about unemployment – How Bud Abbott might have explained the “unemployment rate” to Lou Costello – and how it’s different from the number of people unemployed.
Unemployment Rate In America (in Abbott and Costello lingo)
Lou Costello: I want to talk about the unemployment rate in America.
Bud Abbott: Good Subject. Terrible Times. It’s 9%.
Lou Costello: That many people are out of work?
Bud Abbott: No, that;s 16%.
Lou Costello: You just said 9%.
Bud Abbott: 9% Unemployed.
Lou Costello: Right 9% out of work.
Bud Abbott: No, that’s 16%.
Lou Costello: Okay, so it’s 16% unemployed.
Bud Abbott: No, that’s 9% …
Lou Costello: WAIT A MINUTE! Is it 9% or 16%?
Bud Abbott: 9% are unemployed. 16% are out of work.
Lou Costello: IF you are out of work you are unemployed.
Bud Abbott: No, you can’t count the “Out of Work” as the unemployed. You have to look for work to be unemployed.
Lou Costello: BUT THEY ARE OUT OF WORK!!!
Bud Abbott: No, you miss my point.
Lou Costello: What point?
Bud Abbott: Someone who doesn’t look for work, can’t be counted with those who look for work. It wouldn’t be fair.
Lou Costello: To who?
Bud Abbott: The unemployed.
Lou Costello: But they are ALL out of work.
Bud 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.
Lou Costello: So if you’re off the unemployment roles, that would count as less unemployment?
Bud Abbott: Unemployment would go down. Absolutely!
Lou Costello: The unemployment just goes down because you don’t look for work?
Bud Abbott: Absolutely it goes down. That’s how you get to 9%. Otherwise, it would be 16%. You don’t want to read about 16% unemployment do ya?
Lou Costello: That would be frightening!
Bud Abbott: Absolutely.
Lou Costello: Wait, I got a question for you. That means there’re two ways to bring down the unemployment number?
Bud Abbott: Two ways is correct.
Lou Costello: Unemployment can go down if someone gets a job?
Bud Abbott: Correct.
Lou Costello: And unemployment can also go down if you stop looking for a job?
Bud Abbott: Bingo.
Lou Costello: So there are two ways to bring unemployment down, and the easier of the two is to just stop looking for work.
Bud Abbott: Now you’re thinking like Biden’s economist.
Lou Costello: I don’t even know what I’m talkin’ about!
And now you know why Biden’s unemployment figures are improving! It all depends on who is counting. You might even call it very ‘fuzzy math’.