Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer — Island of Misfit Toys

The Island Of Misfit Toys contains a number of toys that have some sort of defect, like a polka-dotted elephant, a train with square wheels, and a Jack-in-the-Box named Charlie. The job of a toy is to entertain children, and until they can be matched with a child, they could be considered unemployed.

A lot of the toys seem to have given up hope for finding a match after being on the island for so long. As they anxiously await Christmas Eve it’s clear that some of the toys are on the brink of becoming discouraged workers. A discouraged worker is someone who has not actively looked for work in the past four weeks because they don’t believe there are any jobs available.

Thanks to Mandy Mandzik for the clip recommendation. Check out her working paper, All I Want for Christmas is an A on My Econ Final: A Holiday-Themed Review Class, for more Christmas-themed economics examples.

Adam Ruins Everything — Unemployment Rate



Adam Ruins Everything is a half-hour informational comedy were host, Adam Conover, debunks popular myths. Each episode is divided into 3 segments with some common theme. In the Spring of 2018, James Tierney and I sat down to go through all three seasons of Adam Ruins Everything to pick out examples in each episode that could be used in an economics course. If you’re curious about the paper, you can read about it here.

Adam reviews the requirements for individuals to be considered unemployment under the most traditional classification of unemployment (U3). While he mentions that this isn’t a perfect measure, he doesn’t mention the other types of unemployment. This could be a good introduction to the different types of unemployment counted by the BLS.

CNN Debate: Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand the BLS

During the CNN GOP Debate in March, Donald Trump incorrectly categorizes discouraged workers as being statistically part of the employment rate because they are no longer considered unemployed. This classic mistake forgets that there are a class of people in the country who are not in the labor force.

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