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Interesting comment.

How does this compare to say the jobs created in Germany or france during the same time frames.

Do you have a link to where you got that data.


It is incredibly boring to read a thread in which the same person posts repeatedly. If you can't say what you have to say in one or two posts, you have no life.

@Ray D.

Re: The Real Unemployment Numbers in the US

You might want to pick up this month's Economist. There is an interesting article about "hidden unemployment" in the US. (Excerpt)

"A new paper* by Katharine Bradbury of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston should keep the question open for a while longer. The unemployment rate, she suggests, may be a poor measure of slack in the labour market. By her yardstick, there may be as many as 5.1m Americans who do not appear in the unemployment rolls, but who might rejoin the job queue if work were more forthcoming. If so, the "true" unemployment rate could be over 8%, not 5%; the true number of jobless 12.6m, not 7.5m."

Note from David: "Concealed unemployment" is a well known phenomena in international labor markets, but not easily measured and analyzed. Germany is no exception (

1, 2

), and some estimates assume an unemployment of 7 million rather than 5 million using the definition by Katharine Bradbury.
You can massage the stats anyway you like - the fact remains that unemployment in Germany is - relatively - much higher than in the US. Reasons, any guess?

operative word is MIGHT BE

hell there MIGHT BE life on Mars.

hell there MIGHT BE WMDs in Iraq.

hell there might be............fill in the blank.


Mind providing the link on your data source.

Also just what it the point of your comments?
While midly interesting from a historical aspect, they really appear to be nothing more than a big oh hmm...

Since 2000 the US High Tech Industry lost about 40% of its skilled labour. You tell me that happened to the 'something'-engineer after this half year, when his unemployment compensation had expired. Did he spend the last three years as taxidriver, janitor, burger flipper and has lost his qualification he was working so hard for? Was he retrained for a comparable job say as lawyer, medical doctor or so? Where is he left, if he does not show up in the statistics?

As you might know, major companies as IBM, HP etc still are cutting jobs, and then they hire engineers they do that preferably in India or Hungary. In the last years everybody was talking again about 'jobless growth' and the 'new jobs' in the statistics are just a compensation for the new people entering the job market considering a just growing population in the USA.

@ JeffM

I have no idea what your example has to do with my explanation. If you take a look at the sources that I linked, you will find the statistics referenced in the graph. They both measure the % change in GDP from one quarter to the next.

Here is an article on recent GDP growth in the USA, which has now been over 3% for the last 9 quarters.


"So sorry, I don't see any problem with the numbers."

No problem. Took me a while to see it, too ;-).

"The US numbers are the percent change in GDP from the previous quarter, just like the German numbers"

No. As your sources say: US numbers are at ANNUAL rates, German numbers at QUARTERLY rates.

Actually, it´s quite easy to see that there is something wrong.

First a simple example: You buy stock for 100$. One day it increases by 10%, the next day by another 10%. How much is your stock worth now? Right, 121$. That´s a 21% increase. (Zinseszins!)

Now, look at your chart again. Let´s take 2003. Assume you have 0% growth in Q1, Q2 and Q4 and the 7.2% increase in Q3. What kind of growth would that be for the whole year 2003? Right, 7.2%.
If you take the increases in the other quarters in account, too, you would overall end up at a whopping 17% growth for 2003.
Sorry, but even the US economy isn´t that strong :-).

The reason for this is that the US numbers are annualized. I don´t know exactly how this is done. My guess is, e.g. the 7% in 03/Q3 means: 'If growth had been like in this quarter for the whole year of 03, yearly growth would have been 7%'. I.e., the real growth was ca. 1.75% in 03/Q3. 4 quarters per year, hence the factor 4 (that´s merely an estimate, neglecting the Zinseszins).

If you don´t believe me, maybe you believe the OECD. When you look at the link I gave, you´ll see that the numbers for Germany are identical with those you use. The US numbers, however, are significantly lower than yours. About 4 times lower, actually...

And yes, the US still outperforms Germany with the correct numbers. But that never was my point.


I see your point. So, just to clear things up a little. Using OECD numbers for both countries over the last 4 quarters:

The US GDP has grown 3.6% in the last 4 QTs.
The German GDP has grown 1.1% in the last 4 QTs.

fuchur is right. the numbers for the US are annualized.

@ Ray D

The problem is that fuchur is correct that your explanation was wrong. If you do the compound growth (as I worked out with a numerical example using your percentages) of actual, not annualized, quarter by quarter change, you will find that the 4th quarter of 2003 is 17.1 % greater than the 4th quarter of 2002. If you then add up the 4 quarters involved, you find that average growth for the entire year is about 9%. (Sorry, fuchur, you can't do the compound growth for 4 quarters and apply the growth for the final quarter to the entire year. Averaging growth rates is a bit tricky.)

Try it this way Ray. What percent of 2002's GDP was 2002's GDP? 100%, right? Now, to simplify a bit, assume that there was no growth throughout 2002. What percentage of 2002's GDP would be the 4th quarter? We divide by 4, right? Get 25%. Now on the assumption that your figures were unannualized percentage changes on a quarter by quarter basis, I multiply the last quarter's GDP times 1 plus the percentage growth (divided obviously by 100) to get this quarter's GDP. With me so far? OK now add up the 4 quarters for 2003. Presto, 2003's GDP is 109% of 2002's.

The point is that actual and annualized rates of growth involve different arithmetic.

As James W pointed out, whether you compare quarterly actual growth, quarterly annualized growth, or actual annual growth, the US economy is outperforming the German economy. But fuchur raised a valid question.

@ Abe

The US has long measured the unemployed as those actively seeking work. You can agree or disagree whether that is a good way to measure. BUT when doing comparisons, you have to use comparable measures. Mustn't compare meters to feet, you see. So in comparing German and US rates of unemployment, discussions of alternative ways to measure US employment are totally irrelevant and obfuscatory. In fact, those who read Federal Reserve bulletins are usually trained in economics and statistics so it seems to me that you are deliberately obfuscating the issues.


(And no, I am not an econometrician, but my wife was an economist with BLS for years so I have been listening to topics involving econometrics for a long time. I have had plenty of time to learn the use and misuse of economic statistics.)

@ JeffM

So you are saying that the German numbers are "actual" and the US numbers are "annualized"? If that is the case, what are the comparable actual quarterly GDP growth percentages for the US or the comparable "annualized" German numbers?


I think I see the problem. One number is an average divided out and the other is an actual change in 3 months and the comparison is one of apples and oranges. Looks like I needed to take a closer look at the methods and goofed. In other words, comparing the annual rates of change gives a more accurate comparison.

I will look this over again and change the post in an appropriate manner. Thanks.

@ fuchur,

I need to apologize to you. You were right. Thanks for pointing out my mistake. I take back my earlier criticism and I have removed the comment in which I lambasted you because it was unfair.

@ JeffM, nimrod, fuchur, Rob and others:

You guys were right about the GDP comparison. It was an apples and oranges comparison on my part and not accurate and fair. I made this mistake because I didn't look closely enough at how the numbers were derived. So I've corrected the chart by doing a comparison of annual numbers and not quarterly numbers. (I hope I got that one right, if not let me know.) Anyway, thanks for helping me recognize the problem and thus improving our site.

@ readers and commenters:

I have posted a new graph that I believe represents a fair comparison of the GDP growth numbers based on annual, not quarterly stats. Please have a look and feel free to comment. I plan to post a correction notice later today on it. Thanks again.

Update: Correction posted.

@ Ray D.

> Anyway, thanks for helping me recognize the problem and thus improving our site.

Gerne :-)
Leider hat Deine Korrektur auch meinen ursprünglichen Hinweis gelöscht, weiß nicht, ob das beabsichtigt war :-(

@ Martina

I deleted your comments because you thought it was necessary to call us stupid instead of just debating your point.

@ Ray D.

Bist wenigstens erfrischend ehrlich :-)

Bin eben kein Dan Rather...

@ Ray D

Glad to have been of help. Calculation of and comparison of growth rates, particularly growth rates of flow variables over different durations of time, can get tricky. As I said, the substance of your comparison was not in error.
I think it admirable that you guys accept criticism and make corrections.


@ JeffM

Thank you Jeff. If we make a mistake or oversight we have to be big enough to admit that we are human and just correct it.

In re hidden unemployment in US:
We measure unemployment two ways: those collecting unemployment benefits (the most commonly quoted) and the household survey (formally, the Current Population Survey). The household survey is a poll intended to find how many people are out of work but actively seeking a job, whether or not they collect unemployment.

The two measures are usually pretty close. Once in a while, they get out of phase. When we exited the recent recession, the household survey showed more unemployment than the claims figures would indicate. This was because people who had left the labor force (to stay home with the kids, go back to school, run a small business or consulting venture...) saw the improving conditions as a reason to try to get back to work.

Most other measures, such as "underemployment" (taking a job below one's qualifications), part-timers seeking full-time work, or even dissatisfied workers frozen in place by poor prospects elsewhere, are too subjective, too culturally determined, and just too "squishy" for practical use.

There is no doubt, though, that a six-month limit to unemployment benefits is a powerful incentive to find a job. Believe me; I speak from personal experience. Maybe I'm being too typically American, but if something seems to be working, don't try to fix it. If it stops working, we'll try something different. If Germans think that the current employment situation is OK, then there is no issue. If not, then they should try something else. It really is that simple.

no problem :-)

Ah, now I understand the example you gave earlier! I wondered what the 25 was all about... Yep, all this averaging/annualizing thing is tricky.

@ Ray D.

> Bin eben kein Dan Rather...

Nein, ich meinte dass Du zugibst, dass Du auch meinen ersten sachlichen Hinweis

"Bei den US-Daten handelt es sich um aufs Jahr hochgerechnete Zahlen, während die deutschen nicht hochgerechnete Zahlen sind."

bewusst gelöscht hast, auf den Deine Begründung ja wohl kaum zutrifft. Um meinen zweiten Kommentar ist es nicht schade, wollte Dir nur sagen, dass ich den eher augenzwinkernd meinte. Vielleicht hätte ich ja ein Smiley hinzufügen sollen oder in Klammern anmerken, dass es nicht böse gemeint ist ;-) Es ist hier wohl niemand davor gefeit, nur das zu lesen, was er lesen möchte und nicht das, was tatsächlich geschrieben wurde (ich eingeschlossen).

I regularly delete all of the comments in a comments section from those who attack us with insults or otherwise violate our comments policy. You might have noticed that the others like fuchur, Rob, nimrod and JeffM managed to make the very same point repeatedly without having to call anyone stupid. Now that you say it wasn't meant seriously we are fine with that. No harm done.

Showing those graphs is fine and correct, it shows the bottom line of a given situation. However, I like to look at root causes and trendlines that outline future situations.
When we look at productivity, demographics, german psyche, we will understand that the gaps betwen our coutries are widening and no amount of "schoenreden" will change that. It has been happening for some time now.
It's a shame that the "Wirtschaftswunder" didn't come with instructions and most Germans liked "La dolce vita" so much they became too lazy to breed, leading to a future economic Armageddon. Even if the birthrates would drastically increase, it would take 2 generations to bring Germany back.

If you want to satisfy all parties here, one should use GDP/cap. However, In either case, the US has been beating the hell out of most other countries in the world.

Additionally, these graphs only start in 1998, that's a shame because in the 1990s the US' pulling ahead really took hold. Now, Germany is so far behind the US, it will take decades to even catch up. It's already game over...

" in the 80s Germany was under nuclear protection from France, not America (so no deal with American nukes pointing towards the Soviets),"

No doubt that the mighty 'Force de Frappe' held the USSR at bay. I just wish some German chancellor had had the balls to say so publicly so we could have pulled those useless US tanks and troops out back then.

Had I heard such a statement over dinner I'd have asked for the bill and left this dreamer to enjoy his crepes, alone. On second thought, he can't be dreaming up this mirage, it has to be deliberate attempt to avoid a reality he finds distasteful.

germany |usa
land mass - 357,000km² | 9,600,000km²
population - 82,431,390 | 295,734,134
pop.growth rate - 0% | 0.92%
birth rate - 8.33/1000 | 14.14/1000
GDP growth rate - 1.7% | 4.4%
GDP per capita - $28,700 | $40,100
Gini index - 30 (1994) | 45 (2004)
inflation rate - 1.1% | 2.5%
labor force - 42.63 million | 147.4 million
public debt - 65.8% of GDP | 65% of GDP
exports - $893.3 billion | $795 billion
imports - $716.7 billion | $1.476 trillion

and so on...btw, these rough numbers are excerpt of the 2005 cia factbook, in case anyone would like to

know the source.

so what's next? comparing a bicycle to a helicopter because they are both means of transportation?

Comparing GDP per capita is hardly comparing a bicycle to a helicopter. Luxembourg has a per capita GDP that is even higher than that of the USA. Comparing the rate of growth is also not comparing a helicopter with a bicycle. Small nations like Singapore have experienced extremely high rates of growth during periods of economic expansion.

So, what category do I fall in? I don't want to work but hubby's egging me back in the workforce.

And what about the underground economy?

Mexico's not getting at least $13 bill a year out of thin air.

In the parts of Germany that I usually visit (Baden-Wurttemberg and Bavaria) there do not seem to be any poor people. Everyone looks well dressed, the cars on the street are nice, the towns pleasant and well-maintained. That has got to be worth something.

I live in LA, many of whose inhabitants live in 3rd world conditions of poverty and ignorance.

The German economy may not generate as much wealth, but neither does it concentrate it at the top. Here in the US, an ever-increasing portion of the national wealth is flowing upward, leaving the middle and working class in the lurch.

All things being equal, I'd rather live in Germany.


I agree, for those who look for social equivalence and personal financial government support at expense to others (as long as this money lasts) , Germany is the place.

Those who look for freedom from government and self development to reach for themselves the hightest possible human potential, come to America.

Peter P. Haase
Boca Raton, Florida

Tom: I live in LA, many of whose inhabitants live in 3rd world conditions of poverty and ignorance.

I also live in LA and I agree with that. I don't agree though with the socialist/communist dogma that in the US, an ever-increasing portion of the national wealth is flowing upward, leaving the middle and working class in the lurch. (I'm not saying that you, Tom, are a socialist/communist. I don't know you)

The little detail you chose to overlook is that the ones who live in LA in 3rd world conditions are not "middle class" at all ! This is one of the disgraceful tactics of the left who is too lazy to look for the real root cause. (Where is the left's thirst for "root causes"?) The Angelinos living in 3rd world conditions are usually immigrants with little or no skills and education and who usually also lack an important skill needed in order to succeed: proper knowledge of the English language. I'm _not_ saying that "they got what they deserved"; no, I know some of them and they are very nice, hard-working, honest people. The problem is that lack of education is usually a career-killer. The socialist/communist paradise where a landscape employee(nothing against them, I did it too for a long time!) makes same or more money than a university professor or doctor is rotten and leads only to disaster.

Peter P. Haase said it best: those who look for social equivalence and personal financial government support at expense to others (as long as this money lasts) , Germany is the place.

Those who look for freedom from government and self development to reach for themselves the hightest possible human potential, come to America.

I have never looked down at the ones who choose Germany's social safety over America's unparalleled opportunities(in fact, I can understand it very well). On the other hand I have never understood the social-safety-supporters' desire to bash the very competitive US system.

the parts you usually visit are the most prosperous parts of Germany.
try going north or east


The SPD and like-cronies bash the US is because they are in a conundrum: they have to dismiss it like Tom because they rhetorically like to comfort voters with slogans of growth, justice and security and in reality, they cannot deliver on any.

Growing up in America means that you have to have courage, the courage to support yourself whilst studying, in sickness, health, retirement, etc. The country was built by courageous pioneering people who wanted to enjoy the fruits of their own labor. This requires flexibly and dynamism, not really qualities that can easily be found in Germany, which favors the philosophical concept of ordnung.

Seeing as either system is highly successful and works well within it’s culture should preclude it from assuming that it should satisfactorily work elsewhere. However, I don’t find many Americans making comparisons of their country to Germany, why should Germany do otherwise? It seems to me that the SPD needs a straw man to prop up their argument.

OH, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, tho’ they come from the ends of the earth!

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