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Mark Lennihan | AP Photo

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The November 2015 Employment Statistics That Matter

Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the November 2015 unemployment data.  And the government wants you to believe that the economy has transcended into a utopia of 5 percent unemployment, after creating 211,000 new jobs last month. 

Obama Touts This. Currently at 5 percent, the unemployment rate is at the lowest level since Obama became president.  In addition, the president has “created” about 8.1 million net new jobs since 2009 – a little less than the 8.7 million that were lost during financial crisis in 2008 and 2009.

Obama touts this

But Not This. Those rosy unemployment numbers fail to factor in millions of people only marginally attached to the workforce, or those who would like to work, but have quit looking for employment out of frustration at the lack of opportunities.  When those workers are factored in, the real unemployment rate, otherwise known as the underemployment rate is now 9.9 percent – nearly twice the rate of the “official” metric. 

but not this

More importantly, a growing share of the population is no longer participating in the workforce altogether.  The labor force participation rate has dropped to 62.4 percent, or nearly 94 million American not in the labor force; labor force participation has not been this low since 1977.

In our next Ideas Factory piece, we’ll explore how the government determines the unemployment rate – and how it may be as politically fraudulent as you might expect. 

As Mark Twain famously said, “there are lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

Ideas Factory with John Gray

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