The real unemployment, cont’d

The unemployment rate declined to 8.1 percent last month, according to the August jobs report released yesterday, although unemployment as generally understood actually increased. As James Pethokoukis explains, the decline in the unemployment rate was attributable to a big drop in the labor force participation rate (the share of Americans with a job or looking for one): “If fewer Americans hadn’t given up looking for work, the unemployment rate would have risen.” That is to say, “[i]f the participation rate had just stayed the same as last month, the unemployment rate would be 8.4%.” It’s almost enough to make you think that someone is monkeying with the numbers to make the reported result come out “right” (i.e., favorable to Obama).

Though his column concludes with a farrago of generic bromides, Mortimer Zuckerman usefully summarizes the appalling employment picture. Zuckerman reviews the data and concludes: “the real unemployment rate is closer to 19%.” He therefore observes: “We are experiencing, in effect, a modern-day depression.” By the same token, Pethokoukis observes that the data show the labor market to be mired “in a deep depression[.]”

Four more years!


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