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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Unemployment Falls, But...

CNBC reports:

Job creation remained weak in the U.S. during November, with just 120,000 new positions created, though the unemployment rate slid to 8.6 percent, a government report showed Friday.

The rate fell from the previous month's 9.0 percent, a move which in part reflected a drop in those looking for jobs. The participation rate dropped to 64 percent, from 64.2 percent in October, representing 315,000 fewer job-seekers.

The actual employment level increased by 278,000. The total amount of those without a job fell to 13.3 million.

At The New Republic, William Galston has three sobering notes:

First: Despite the growth of the working-age population over the past four years, the labor force (roughly, the sum of those employed plus job-seekers) has not expanded. For various reasons, more and more Americans have been dropping out of the labor force. If Americans of working age were participating in the labor force at the same rate as they were at the onset of the recession, the labor force would be nearly 5 million people larger, and unemployment would be significantly worse in both absolute and percentage terms.

Second: Despite the modest economic recovery since the recession ended in mid-2009, total employment remains more than 5.5 million below the level of 2007 and about 1.6 million below where it was when President Obama took office.

Third: To regain full employment (5 percent, which happens to be the same as the level when the recession began) with the pre-recessionary labor force participation rate, we would need 150.7 million jobs—10.1 million more than we have today. That’s a reasonable measure of the hole we’re still in, two and a half years since the official end of the recession.

Gallup's report on presidential approval is thus not surprising:

President Obama's 43% average job approval rating last month ranks as one of the lowest for an elected president in November of his third year in office. Only Jimmy Carter had a lower rating, at 40%. But Carter's rating surged in late November 1979 because of a rally in support after the onset of the Iranian Hostage Crisis, and he averaged above 50% in December. All recently elected presidents were at or above 50% in December of their third year in office.