January 8th, 2011
12:00 PM ET

Letters to the President: #719 'Counting all the unemployed'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama is going into the new year still facing a very tough job - finding jobs for millions of Americans who are out of work.

Dear Mr. President,

I suppose the holidays are really, truly, finally over. Our elder daughter is headed back to Georgia Tech and our younger one so deeply buried beneath a new load of school work that she’ll be shoveling through the weekend. We’re packing the decorations away, and if I have the ambition I will climb into the attic and wrestle the giant wreath from the highest window in the house.

In the same sense, you must feel as if you’re doing some wrestling of your own. These latest unemployment numbers are still pretty awful. I know many folks may look at the decline in the jobless rate and say, “That’s good!” What they would be overlooking, however, is something that you and I know: A big reason the unemployment rate dropped is because another quarter-million people quit looking for work altogether. And we don’t count them.

This year, I think we should.

This is not a matter of wanting to make you or any president look bad; nor is it about depressing the populace further. It’s a matter of making things clear and accurate. It just seems as if it would just be easier for everyone to follow precisely where we are in our struggle to rebuild our economy if there were one clear measure of precisely how many jobs we have, and how many people want work but can’t find it.

You know that I am a big believer in personal initiative and a “never say die” spirit, but some of our fellow citizens are dispirited, depressed, and exhausted trying to find jobs that aren’t there to be found. Sure, we can’t just count every single able bodied person because, in truth, there are some folks who for a variety of reasons do no want jobs. But we really ought to come up with some way to officially add up those who still want work, but have no idea where to look anymore. They still count. And we should count them.

Anyway, I don’t want this to be a total downer. What football games are you planning to watch this weekend? We’ll be checking out the Saints, of course. If you want to come over let me know and I’ll order the large pizza. Do you like mushrooms? How about green peppers? Give me a buzz.


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Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

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