A "Help Wanted" sign in the window of an automotive...

A "Help Wanted" sign in the window of an automotive service shop in El Cerrito, Calif. (March 8, 2013) Credit: Getty Images

The column about the unemployment rate is correct, and I agree 100 percent for all of the reasons given ["Don't believe the unemployment rate," Opinion, Sept. 12]. I would like to add a few thoughts.

First, keep in mind that the numbers are revised up or down monthly. In addition, holidays affect the numbers. We need to look at the big picture and long-term trends rather than monthly numbers.

Working as a free-lance contractor has some advantages, but there are also disadvantages. One is that the freelancer has no 401(k), no pension, no paid sick days or holidays, no employer-provided health coverage. Independent contractors pay both the employer and employee portions of Social Security and Medicare taxes.

Further, the work may not be steady, and there may be periods of down time for which the freelancer has no income. An unstable model such as this can reduce consumer spending and discourage banks from making mortgage loans to freelancers.

The Federal Reserve has done much to help the situation; however, it is not a legislative body. Congress needs to address this and related problems, including the size of the shrinking middle class.

Finally, the rising cost of college education will have long-term negative effects on our economy and society. This needs to be addressed as well.

Clifford J. Watins, Commack

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