We've gone over much of this before, but it most certainly bears repeating.
Good news, the "headline" unemployment number is in decline as both the seasonally adjusted and unadjusted rates are well below 8%.
As an aside, you might not want to totally trust the "headline" unemployment number as it has been tinkered with over the last 5 or so administrations in order to make things appear more rosy than they are.
The unemployment rate is calculated as a percentage by dividing the number of unemployed individuals ... that would be the numerator ... by all individuals currently in the labor force ... the denominator.
If you recall from fourth grade, both the numerator and denominator have something to do with establishing a ratio.
In this case a significant part of the "improved" unemployment rate has to do with people just flat out leaving the labor force ... the denominator.
Total labor force participation has declined to levels last seen in the early 80s with no sign in the chart of even an intermediate bottom being established.
As an aside, the average duration of unemployment presently blows the doors off any period since we started caring about such things.
Remembering here that numerator and denominator thing, an item that cannot be ignored is the increased participation of women in the labor force since the middle 60s.
You can see below that the percentage of men in the labor force has declined from the high 80s to 70%, while the percentage of women in the work force has increased from the low 30s in the early 1960s to the high 50s having topped out at 60% during the late 1990s.
That's some pretty serious pushing and pulling on the total labor force participation rate, not to mention the social fabric of the nation.
We view this in and of itself as neither a good thing nor a bad thing. But because at the very least we attempt to deal with whatever is around here, we take note of the fact and conclude that America damn well needs to create more jobs than it ever has before in order to accomodate an increased demand from women for employment regardless of total labor force participation.
Or ... and better yet ... America needs to somehow decrease labor's demand for employment without adding to the number of people on the dole.
While simultaneously increasing employer's demand for labor.
That one there is pretty much a definition for the word conundrum.
You should try dwelling on that some until the headache starts to develope.
And speaking of people on the dole.
If you haven't been hanging around here lately, you may be asking yourself, "Just what exactly is it that all of these people who are no longer in the labor force are doing for money?"
We've gone through this one before, but it also bears repeting,
Lots of them are going on disability. The first chart is old news as it extends only from 1970 to 2002. This following is charting dollars spent rather than the number of people collecting and is measured in 2003 dollars in an attempt to take inflation out of the view.
These next two charts demonstrates the percentage of working age population receiving disability insurance benefits.
It extends through the present and projects increases well into the future.
They are also collecting food stamps.
SNAP is the acronym for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
It continues to set records for both total participants at over 43,000,000 people and rate of participation of just under 14%.
The Obama years have been a particular disaster but the trend was already in place.
Among the myriad of other federal benefits programs.
You might well be asking yourself here, "What to do? What to do?"
Later for that ..... today we're just bitching.