The real job numbers from February

The "official" BLS numbers on jobs created in February are pretty good; 295,000 jobs created, private sector employment growing nicely at 2.8% over the last year, and the official unemployment rate dropped to 5.5%.

But those numbers are only half the story, as Sean Davis at the Federalist points out:

The Department of Labor announced today that the official unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent last month, the lowest it’s been since Spring of 2008. Good news, right? Well, kind of. The official unemployment rate masks a problem that’s been plaguing the economy since shortly before the 2009 recession: a continuing decline in the labor force participation rate, which basically measures the percentage of the able-bodied population that’s either working or looking for work. After holding steady at roughly 66 percent from 2004 through late 2008, the labor force participation has been falling, and falling, and falling some more, with no end in sight.

This decline has significant effects on the official unemployment rate. People who are unemployed and eventually stop looking for work are no longer counted as being part of the labor force, which means they’re no longer counted by U.S. statistical agencies as being unemployed (you can read in detail about the math underlying this dynamic here). The result? An artificially low official unemployment rate.

So what does the unemployment rate picture look like if you take into account all of the labor force droputs since the end of the recession in June of 2009? Not pretty. If you take those labor force dropouts into account, the U.S. does not have an unemployment rate of 5.5 percent. Instead, it has a likely unemployment rate of 9.6 percent, and that’s hardly good news.

This isn't news to most of us. Gallup CEO Jim Clifton recently penned a startling op-ed on his company website, saying the government was lying and covering up the real unemployment rate.

The thing is, the numbers aren't fooling anyone. Polls consistently show that a majority of the country still thinks the US is in a recession. These monthly exercises in fantasy by the BLS and the administration only serve to fool the gullible. Most of us apparently are more willing to believe our own eyes rather than the numbers from the government.

The "official" BLS numbers on jobs created in February are pretty good; 295,000 jobs created, private sector employment growing nicely at 2.8% over the last year, and the official unemployment rate dropped to 5.5%.

But those numbers are only half the story, as Sean Davis at the Federalist points out:

The Department of Labor announced today that the official unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent last month, the lowest it’s been since Spring of 2008. Good news, right? Well, kind of. The official unemployment rate masks a problem that’s been plaguing the economy since shortly before the 2009 recession: a continuing decline in the labor force participation rate, which basically measures the percentage of the able-bodied population that’s either working or looking for work. After holding steady at roughly 66 percent from 2004 through late 2008, the labor force participation has been falling, and falling, and falling some more, with no end in sight.

This decline has significant effects on the official unemployment rate. People who are unemployed and eventually stop looking for work are no longer counted as being part of the labor force, which means they’re no longer counted by U.S. statistical agencies as being unemployed (you can read in detail about the math underlying this dynamic here). The result? An artificially low official unemployment rate.

So what does the unemployment rate picture look like if you take into account all of the labor force droputs since the end of the recession in June of 2009? Not pretty. If you take those labor force dropouts into account, the U.S. does not have an unemployment rate of 5.5 percent. Instead, it has a likely unemployment rate of 9.6 percent, and that’s hardly good news.

This isn't news to most of us. Gallup CEO Jim Clifton recently penned a startling op-ed on his company website, saying the government was lying and covering up the real unemployment rate.

The thing is, the numbers aren't fooling anyone. Polls consistently show that a majority of the country still thinks the US is in a recession. These monthly exercises in fantasy by the BLS and the administration only serve to fool the gullible. Most of us apparently are more willing to believe our own eyes rather than the numbers from the government.