In June, the real unemployment rate (U-6) was 9.6%, nearly double the widely-reported unemployment rate (U-3) of 4.9%. Here's how to calculate both:
You can quickly tell that the official rate is a little more than half the real rate. That remains true no matter how well the economy is doing. Even in 2000, when the official unemployment rate was at the of 4.0%, the real unemployment rate was just about double, at 7.1%. was its highest at 9.8%, the real rate was still nearly double, at 16.7%.
You must also remember, dear Shmoopers, that in history, nothing can be taken for granted, and hindsight is always 20/20. You should never assume that our country always looked the way it does today on a map, or—as in the ideology of Manifest Destiny—that we were destined to assume our present form. History does not neatly unfold according to a series of predetermined (or ) prophecies; no matter how Americans have rationalized their land conquests, or whether they were fighting Mexicans, Native Americans, or others, these were messy, bloody, protracted battles on all sides. The outcome was neither obvious nor easy. To trivialize the process of westward expansion or imperialism as an inevitability is to oversimplify history. Even if we now know the end of this particular story—that we in fact conquer the continent, —it is the and the that really counts. The is also pretty important; in other words, what was the cost of westward expansion? You could think about that question in terms of the lives lost (white settlers on the frontier, American soldiers, Mexican soldiers, Mexican citizens, Native Americans); or the tribal cultures that were decimated by disease and bloodshed along the way; or the price of the many land treaties in cold hard cash; or the dramatic alterations to the landscape and the resultant ; or the impact on national goals, values, and ideas. must be part of that answer, too; even if most nineteenth-century Americans agreed on the virtues of expanding the national boundaries westward, they disagreed violently over whether slavery should expand into the west as well.
Indeed, the US official statistics were revised in this latest report. In the three-year period 2011-13, the real GDP growth rate averaged exactly 2% a year, revised down from 2.2%. So the ‘recovery’ since the end of the Great Recession in mid-2009 remains the weakest since the Great Depression. And the gap between where the trend growth rate would have taken the US economy without the Great Recession happening and the reality remains unbridged, with some $1.5trn of output lost forever, or about 10% of GDP.