Employed or unemployed? That's not the right question.

Sep 6, 2013

The U.S. unemployment rate for August was 7.3%, a slight improvement over July, and the economy added 169,000 jobs, missing economists’ expectations.

Here’s CNNMoney’s analysis.

“Hiring continued at a slow pace in August, and the unemployment rate fell as more Americans dropped out of the labor force.”

But as I’ve said in Dispatches before, these monthly numbers don’t tell the whole story. In fact, they may be telling the wrong story.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' surveys were designed in the 1940s, when “work” overwhelmingly meant a full-time, 40-hour week job.

But work has changed dramatically since then—about one-third of the workforce is freelancing these days. And that makes a huge difference, as I explained today on PBS NewsHour's Making Sen$e Business Desk:

“The BLS still uses a standard workweek as the measure of employment, but there's a whole workforce out there that doesn't fit easily into that box. It's impossible to know how many people are being miscounted, undercounted or left out entirely.

With freelancing clearly on the rise, we can't just leave this new workforce out of our economic data. The BLS surveys need to be updated to reflect the way people work now. Instead of focusing on whether someone's job is full-time or part-time, how about asking if they have enough work to sustain a life?" (Read the full article here.) __

It's time for freelancers to be counted.

Sara Horowitz

As the founder of Freelancers Union, Sara has been a voice for freelancers for over two decades.