In America we have often said that watching unemployment numbers so closely (as the media tends to do) misses the depths of what is happening to America as a whole. Our national income has been stagnating or declining for decades, even during times when our employment was high. That is because people are losing high paying jobs and finding low or modest paying jobs. When you leave a $30 an hour factory job and take a $15 an hour Wal-Mart job, you are still employed, but you are more poor. Every now and then the media pundits will note that, but then they quickly move on to jobless claims trench that they are more interested in and more familiar with. What they (and we) should be saying is that we have near ten percent unemployment and near twenty-five percent poverty. But we don't.
But here are Leonhardt's comments on the global picture, in which he comes reasonably close to making that point.
Unemployment Does Not Equal Poverty
Perhaps the most surprising part of the new Gallup study of unemployment around the world is that poorer countries don’t tend to have higher jobless rates. After surveying workers in 129 countries, Gallup concludes that “there is no significant relationship between unemployment rates and GDP per capita.” The relevant chart, which shows basically no pattern:
Here’s the Gallup’s chart comparing per-capita gross domestic product and underemployment, a category that includes part-time workers who want to be working full time:
The relationship between poverty and what Gallup calls “employed full time for an employer” is even stronger: