As you know Money McBags spends his days scouring the financial news in order to provide it to you in a more suitable, informative, and entertaining form. However, during today's reading, Money McBags came across a glaring error in a NY Times article which he then posted a comment about to their site. Said comment never reached the general population of NY Times readers as the NY Times editorial staff knows not give their competition any print space (and if you don't think the NY Times is in competition with whengeniusprevailed, then you clearly don't understand how Money McBags is slowly taking over the financial media).
Anyway, this is the comment that the NY Times refused to publish:
Dear NYTimes copy editors/fact checkers. This paragraph appears in the above article:
"Large swaths of the population — 15.3 million — remained unemployed. And the number of Americans out of work for six months or more, and in many cases longer than a year, hit 39.8 percent in December, the highest level since records were first kept in 1948."
Now look, Money McBags is no Strunk or White, but he does understand macroeconomics and the above paragraph reads as if 39.8% of the US population has been out of work for 6 months or more. This is obviously untrue since:
1. Unemployment is only 10% as stated in this exact same column. Now I know you can play around with numerators and denominators and what is and is not included in the unemployment figures, and maybe you can get it to 17ish%, but that's it. You're not getting 39.8%.
2. The article states 15.3MM people remain unemployed, so if that represents 39.8% of the population, that would mean the US shrunk by a factor of around 8 overnight. Now I haven't turned on my TV today, but I am pretty sure there were no once in a lifetime catastrophes last night that shrunk the US population from around 300MM to around 40MM. And if there were, couldn't someone have at least tweeted me about them?
3. If unemployment were 39.8%, we'd all be selling apples out of a cart and since we'd all have the same occupation, unemployment would exponentially grow until this country no longer existed. In that case, we could just change our name to the United States of We're Screwed or Turkmenistan.
So clearly, 39.8% of Americans have not been unemployed for 6 months or more.
Now I alluded to my old nemesises (or is the plural of "nemesis" nemesi? It's too bad that Safire guy isn't still here) Strunk and White earlier and I believe they could help with this misleading statement. As a foremost thinker on the markets, Money McBags knows that there are ~5.5MM people who have filed for extended unemployment (being unemployed for 6+ months). This number is roughly 36% of the 15.3MM unemployed people cited in the article. So if we use round numbers or massage them a bit to get the happy ending we seek, we can get to the 39.8% number used in this article. Therefore, a good copy editor, one who has The Elements of Style on their Kindle, would have spotted the glaring grammatical error and fixed this awkwardly worded, contradictory, and patently false statement.
The statement should read (correction in caps, I'm not yelling, but bolding does not work in the comments section):
"Large swaths of the population — 15.3 million — remained unemployed. And the number of Americans out of work for six months or more, and in many cases longer than a year, AS A PERCENT OF THE TOTAL UNEMPLOYED POPULATION hit 39.8 percent in December, the highest level since records were first kept in 1948."
Hey, it happens. There are a lot of words in the NY Times that need to be read and reviewed, but if Money McBags, who has butchered language in ways that would make Aelius Donatus wish he had never become a tutor, can spot these mistakes, there clearly needs to be more focus here.
Now readers. This is the article from the NY Times. You can see they fixed it, and they did so 10 minutes after Money McBags brilliant diatribe on their grammatical injustices.
It now reads:
"Still, large swaths of the population — 15.3 million — remained without work. And 39.8 percent of unemployed Americans have been out of work for six months or more, and in many cases longer than a year — the highest level since records were first kept in 1948."
A simple thank you will do.