Another aspect of those job numbers, from Andy Kroll at MoJo:
But jobless rates can be deceiving. One crucial statistic to look at is the percentage of working-age people who are actually in the labor force. In December, that figure edged downward yet again, to 64.3 percent. That's the lowest it's been since the early 1980s, and as Calculated Risk notes, down from the normal 66 to 67 percent over the past two decades. In other words, about the same percentage of working-age people collected a steady paycheck in December as did during the Reagan presidency.
And that's why you shouldn't get too excited about that lower, 9.4 percent unemployment rate. It's not that the job market is necessarily improving, but that people are still dropping out of the labor market and making the pool of officially unemployed workers look smaller than it really is. These are people who're tired of sending out cover letters and resumes, attending job fairs, scouring online job boards. To wit: the number of workers who've dropped out of the labor force increased by 1.5 million between December 2009 and December 2010.
Of course, the numbers lie. The unemployment numbers only reflect the numbers of people who are applying for/receiving unemployment insurance benefits. Those who were never eligible and those whose benefits have run out are not included in the numbers.
Why aren't we hearing this?
If the economy adds 150,000 jobs per month going forward, then it will take around 20 years to get back to the pre-recession employment level of 5 percent, according to the Economic Policy Institute's Heidi Schierholz.
cross-posted at MainSt/workingamerica.org