Wisconsin unemployment rate drops below 5 percent

I didn't forget about this, I just wanted to be sure I gave this the proper amount of time required and not short change you. I am also giving you the benefit of the doubt that you're just fed up with how everyone touts the drop in unemployment as rousing success or points to the rise in it as a failure in the administration. But you cannot be more wrong that it is just a meaningless statistic, so please hear me out and I will try to ELI5. Please ask any questions you want, but from here on out it is party neutral and politics will only be in the footnote.

Unemployment is one of many measures to see how the economy is doing. Think of it as taking the temperature of the market, if it is high it could be one of many thing (sick/bad economy, stresses/structural changes that lead to layoffs, just had a huge workout/post war busts), but that number doesn't mean much in and of itself. Just like with seeing if you have the flu, you have to look at other things that are happening in the market to gauge if it could be something else.

Everyone has their chosen metrics to watch to see how the economy is going. Mine are unemployment, CPI (inflation), household income, and the shift in manufacturing (because it has the highest multiplier of the other employment sectors and it's my field). My uncle doesn't care about manufacturing or CPI, but he does keep track of the Treasury Notes because he's in personal finance. Janet Yellen (the current FED chair) seems to favor wage growth and underemployment because every time she speaks they both get mentioned, but that is probably because those are the lagging indicators to finally prove our economy has fully recovered. I'm not sure what /u/toasters_are_great follows, but he seems like enough of an econ nerd to have his go to metrics (also, correct me where I'm wrong on any of this or if you have better analogies).

So, by seeing a shrinking unemployment with a similarly shrinking underemployment, we're given good news because the economy is (probably) getting better. In fact, all of the market indicators are showing an improving economy in WI and the US (I'm skeptical to give any credit to anyone in political office, but I'm the minority). So why do we follow unemployment if it is an incomplete, lagging indicator of the economy? There are two primary reasons, one economic and one for news. The first is that unemployment does show economy slow downs and improvements, and it has a negative effect on the GDP of a region (GDP tl;dr: it doesn't actually measure the standard of living, but it is so heavily connected that it is accepted as a high level standard of living metric). The other reason is that for political theater because the average newspaper reader can wrap their head around what it means to be unemployed and know that it is bad.

Here is the political footnote. The thing that makes it political theater is that people associate how well the economy is doing with who is in charge. The housing crash of '08 had little to do with Obama (he was at his highest power 1 vote in a sea of Congressmen), yet he was blamed for the result and people got upset at him for not fixing a structural problem that he had very little control over. Something inside our lizard brains tells us that the people in charge are all powerful and that they can control the economy, so we let them lead us along when they tell us about how they can improve the economy or it was the other guy's fault. Even Walker did this with his 250k jobs promise and we ate it up when in fact he took a 2 year economic prediction and doubled it, meaning we should have hit 250k with minimal intervention. That is also why I didn't tag the same story I linked as Politics, because we make it political not that it is inherently political (you can also see this with the top comment in there by someone who successfully goaded me into the MN v. WI economy just so he could say liberalism is better).

TL;DR: Unemployment is one of many factors to look at how the economy is doing and is important to follow. The problem is the theater we put it in and allow the actors to claim responsibility.

/r/wisconsin Thread Link - m.channel3000.com