In a recession, experts eye unemployment charts every month looking for signs of a recovery, but as AEI’s Henry Olsen writes, we shouldn’t ignore the employment rate. What percentage of working-age Americans actually have jobs?
The import of the employment rate is clearer when one compares it and the unemployment rate to data from last August. America’s adult population has risen by 2 million people since then, but the number of adults with jobs has dropped by 180,000. The unemployment rate declined slightly despite these numbers, from 9.7 percent to 9.6 percent, because over 2.3 million people have left the labor force entirely, so discouraged they are no longer even looking for work. The employment rate more accurately reflects that despair, sliding down from 59.1 percent to 58.5 percent.