Unemployment data not what it appears

The March unemployment data has been issued.  The government claims 120,000 jobs were created and the unemployment rate fell to 8.2% from 8.3% in February.   However closer looks at the statistics reveal an altogether different scenario.

In March, an additional 164,000 people dropped out of the labor force bring the total of people not in the labor force up to nearly 88 million (a new record).  In January of 2009 (when Obama assumed office that total was 81 million. 

The published unemployment rate of 8.2% does not include those who have dropped out of the job market or are discouraged.    However the Bureau of Labor Statistics does publish a statistic that takes into account the total unemployed, plus discouraged workers and those marginally attached to the labor force (but not the entire universe of those who have completely dropped out of the labor force), that they all the U-5 unemployment rate, which in March was 9.6%.

If the labor force participation rate (that part of the overall civilian population in the labor force) were the same as when Obama took office, then the actual unemployment rate would be 10.5%.   As those not in the labor force has increased nearly seven million since Obama became President.

By comparison the last time the nation faced a severe recession (actually worse than what Obama faced) was in the early 1980's.   The unemployment rate peaked at 10.8% (November 1982) under Ronald Reagan; however within 14 months that rate was down to 7.6% after the effect of Reagan's new policies took hold -- a drop of 30%.

On the other hand the peak during the Obama years was in October 2009 at 11.5% (using the U-5 rate as that compares to the calculations used in the 1980's).   March of 2012 is 30 months later and the rate is at a high 9.6% -- a drop of just 16%.