Imagine your falling. In accordance with the rules of gravity, you are gaining potentially deadly speed by the second. You are sure you are going to die. Then something happens. You hit an updraft of air and you can literally feel your speed decelerate. So you breathe a sigh of relief and decide things are going to work out. After all, you are falling slower now. Right?

Wrong. You are still falling, maybe not as fast as you expected or previously were. But you are still falling. And, unless something changes, you are going to get very hurt or die when you hit the ground.

Ridiculous, I know. But that is exactly what we are expected to swallow in the reporting of unemployment figures. The Associated Press is reporting today that “first-time claims for unemployment benefits dropped to a seasonally adjusted 444,000 last week,” down 7,000.

Too bad the number is 19,000 higher than economists’ forecasts. Also, these are first-time filers. The numbers basically ignore all the filers of the past year and a half. The government -crafted unemployment rate, a just-barely-acceptable 9.7 percent (Double-digits could send approval rates into the ground. Convenient, no?), also leaves out past filers who are no longer receiving benefits. This means the actual rate is waaay above 10 percent. Yep, scary territory.

I heard a statistic this morning from NPR that said that 1 in 5 males of prime age in the U.S. are unemployed. That’s a big fat 20 percent, people. Are we in scary, Depression-level territory yet? Oh yeah.

In other words, just because our freefall isn’t accelerating as fast it has been for the last 18 months, it doesn’t mean we aren’t still falling.

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