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Unemployment humor

Posted: May 29, 2012 at 12:50 pm   /   by

A guy walks into a bar and says, “I’ve been unemployed for so long, I’ve given up even trying to find a job.”

Not actually very funny, is it. As we discussed earlier today, and as we have been discussing for a while, new job creation has barely been keeping up with population growth; the reason unemployment has gone down is because of the drop in the labor force participation rate. For more information on this, see these posts:

But just because this is a serious situation doesn’t mean that some aren’t trying to enjoy a little dark humor on the subject. This one is amusing, and we could all use a laugh . . .


COSTELLO: I want to talk about the unemployment rate in America.

ABBOTT: Good Subject. Terrible Times. It’s about 8 percent.

COSTELLO: That many people are out of work?

ABBOTT: No, that’s 16 percent.

COSTELLO: You just said 8 percent.

ABBOTT: 8 percent unemployed.

COSTELLO: Right 8 percent out of work.

ABBOTT: No, that’s 16 percent.

COSTELLO: Okay, so it’s 16 percent unemployed.

ABBOTT: No, that’s around 8 percent…

COSTELLO: Waits a minute. Is it 8 percent or 16 percent?

ABBOTT: 8 percent are unemployed. 16 percent are out of work.

COSTELLO: If you are out of work aren’t you unemployed?

ABBOTT: No, you can’t count the “Out of Work” as unemployed. You have to look for work to be unemployed.

COSTELLO: But they are out of work!!!

ABBOTT: No, you miss my point.

COSTELLO: What point?

ABBOTT: Someone who doesn’t look for work, can’t be counted with those who look for work. It wouldn’t be fair.


ABBOTT: The unemployed.

COSTELLO: But they are all out of work.

ABBOTT:No, the unemployed are actively looking for work … Those who are out of work stopped looking. They gave up. And, if you give up, you are no longer in the ranks of the unemployed.

COSTELLO: So if you’re off the unemployment roles, that would count as less unemployment?

ABBOTT: Unemployment would go down. Absolutely!

COSTELLO: The unemployment just goes down because you don’t look for work?

ABBOTT: Absolutely it goes down. That’s how you get to 8 percent. Otherwise it would be 16 percent. You don’t want to read about 16 percent unemployment do ya?

COSTELLO: That would be frightening.

ABBOTT: Absolutely.

COSTELLO: Wait, I got a question for you. That means ther’re two ways to bring down the unemployment number?

ABBOTT: Two ways is correct.

COSTELLO: Unemployment can go down if someone gets a job?


COSTELLO:And unemployment can also go down if you stop looking for a job?

ABBOTT: Bingo.

COSTELLO: So there are two ways to bring unemployment down, and the easier of the two is to just stop looking for work.

ABBOTT: Now you’re thinking like an economist.

COSTELLO: I don’t even know what the hell I just said!

Abbott & Costello did a comedy routine about fictitious ball players called Who’s On First? The absurdist number of the real unemployed is not a joke.

Christopher Cook

Christopher Cook

Managing Editor at Western Free Press
Christopher Cook is a writer, editor, and political commentator. He is the president of Castleraine, Inc., a consulting firm providing a diverse array of services to corporate, public policy, and not-for-profit clients.

Ardently devoted to the cause of human freedom, he has worked at the confluence of politics, activism, and public policy for more than a decade. He co-wrote a ten-part series of video shorts on economics, and has film credits as a researcher on 11 political documentaries, including Citizens United's notorious film on Hillary Clinton that became the subject of a landmark Supreme Court decision. He is the founder of several activist endeavors, including (now a part of Western Free Press) and He is currently the managing editor of and principal contributor to
Christopher Cook