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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press NYT: Germany's Unemployment Rate is 7.0 Percent or 6.2 Percent

NYT: Germany's Unemployment Rate is 7.0 Percent or 6.2 Percent

Saturday, 17 September 2011 07:31

In the NYT, Germany's unemployment rate seems to vary depending on which article you read. We can look at the chart accompanying a piece on Geithner lecturing the European Union on how to deal with debt and see that the German unemployment rate is 6.2 percent. Or we can read in a piece discussing Berlin's economic and social prospects that the city's 13.3 percent unemployment rate is far above the national average of 7.0 percent.

The 6.2 percent number in the chart is right. This is the OECD's harmonized unemployment rate. It uses essentially the same methodology as the United States government, which makes it a meaningful figure for NYT readers.

The 7.0 percent rate is the official German government rate. The German government methodology counts many part-time workers as being unemployed. This number does not provide an apples-to-apples basis for comparisons with the U.S. unemployment rate. Therefore it should not appear in a news story in the U.S. media. 

Comments (2)Add Comment
Difficult comparison
written by Mr Duncan, September 17, 2011 10:52
The trouble is if they use the 6.2% number in the story about Berlin, how do they normalize the 13.3% number, not knowing how much of that is part-time workers? If the German statistics do break that out, then it's doable, but if not they should mention that the 7.0% is a higher number from the OECD number in the article.
Does it matter?
written by Scott ffolliott, September 17, 2011 8:12
Who believes anything published in the NY Times?

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.