Don’t rejoice yet over low unemployment

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By Ben Carlson

Column as I see ’em …
The old adage that figures lie and liars figure has never been truer than it is today, especially when it’s the government doing the figuring.
Each month I receive unemployment data from the state’s office of employment and training, and it’s about as useful as tickets to have watched Louisville play in Monday’s NCAA finals.
This month’s data claim that unemployment fell in 111 of Kentucky’s 120 counties when comparing this February to last.
Before jumping up and down and declaring the recession finished, consider what those numbers don’t tell you in Kentucky, as well as on the national level.
Since the state and nation began hemorrhaging jobs for real about four years ago, unemployment climbed over 10 percent fairly quickly and stayed there about two years.
Since then, the unemployment here and nationally has crept incrementally down, drawing hooray’s from those to obtuse to realize why while those who do understand deviously take credit where credit isn’t due.
The reason isn’t that millions of jobs have been created. Instead, it’s because so many people have exhausted their unemployment benefits they are no longer counted among the unemployed, even though they don’t have jobs.
Hardly a reason to cheer, but those aspiring to stay in elected office do so anyway, apparently hoping that the majority are among those too obtuse to know better.
And they’re doing the same with inflation.
Measured largely by the consumer price index, inflation means people can buy less of the things they need or want unless their salaries increase accordingly.
As they have with unemployment rates, Washington’s chief figurers play a cute little trick when stating the inflation rate — they don’t include the two staples of American life: food and fuel.
Those two categories have risen dramatically during the past three years — as if you didn’t know.
Now you’ll know the truth the next time some blowhard on TV or radio tries to convince you how wonderful things are and why those in elected office deserve to stay there.

Those who haven’t toured the new Wild Turkey distillery are missing out on a very cool way to spend an hour or two.
I had that pleasure last week following a groundbreaking ceremony for the new bottling facility there. It was made even cooler because the tour was given by Associate Master Distiller Eddie Russell, and his dad, Master Distiller Jimmy, was with the group, too.
Lawrenceburg lifers probably aren’t as aware as someone from the outside (that’s me) of just how cool it is to walk with them through the distillery, and hang out afterward in the tasting room while samples are sipped and tales are told.
It’s something I’ll always remember, and am grateful for the opportunity.

Here’s proof that a person learns something new nearly every day.
I had a fellow walk in last week who was more than a little upset at the health department. He said he wanted to get his blood pressure checked, but for various reasons could not.
He was right. I made a phone call and learned that nearly every service provided by the health department is on an appointment basis, and then almost exclusively for preventative care.
Basically, there are no doctors on staff there, and solutions to genuine medical issues aren’t what that facility provides.
I also learned that there is a place in Lawrenceburg where people can get their blood pressure checked without an appointment, and that’s at the ambulance building, located on the Bypass across from Kroger.
I feel smarter already.