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May 10, 2012

Bangor Daily News: "Jobs report shows effects of the incredible shrinking U.S. labor force"

But you know: Mitt Romney was responsible for a 46-year-gestating Suicide By Natural Causes, so.

This was from last week's Washington Post, apparently, but I didn't hear of it being reported there. (But then, maybe that Pethokoukis piece I linked yesterday actually referenced it by link.)

By Brad Plumer, The Washington Post Posted May 05, 2012, at 5:39 a.m.

If the same percentage of adults were in the workforce today as when Barack Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be 11.1 percent. If the percentage was where it was when George W. Bush took office, the unemployment rate would be 13.1 percent.

That helps explain a seeming contradiction in the unemployment numbers — the rate keeps dropping even though job creation has been soft.

The explanation is a little-watched measure known as the “labor force participation rate.” That tracks the number of working-age Americans who are holding a job or looking for one. Between March and April, it dropped by 342,000. But because the official unemployment rate counts only those workers who are actively seeking work, that actually made the unemployment rate go down.

Critics of the Obama administration have been quick to seize on this as the real reason for the falling unemployment rate...

Economists say the story is considerably more complicated....

And there's your spin. Yes, the labor force is shrinking, and has been for a while, but not this rapidly. Watch it drop precipitously under Obama:

That year 2000 peak was also a short-term one, which occurred during Clinton's boom years. So to say it's been "declining" since then is misleading. Yes, we're down from the Boom Year peak, of course. A return to normalcy.

But the real serious fall occurs under Obama's watch.

And further-- if Baby Boomers are retiring early (which the Post says is one of the other reasons, apart from economic malaise, the labor force participation rate is declining), that should open up positions for younger workers.

But it's not. Even with so many fewer workers seeking jobs, the official unemployment rate is still higher than 8%. And the true unemployment rate is anywhere from 11% to 17%, depending on how you count it.


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posted by Ace at 02:30 PM

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