Democrats and the Obama administration are doing somersaults over the newly released November Jobs Report that has unemployment hitting a new low of 4.6 percent — the lowest since 2007. And there is no shortage of people applauding the rosy figure:
Obama's unemployment rate. Happy Friday. https://t.co/Hwyvxlyxzp— Matt Phillips (@Matt Phillips)1480689436.0
But underneath the breathless swagger is a reality they don't want to acknowledge. As CNN Money reported:
The unemployment rate dropped for three main reasons. The number of jobless workers decreased, while the number of people with jobs increased. The total size of the labor force — which includes both employed and unemployed people — also decreased.
Together, those three factors pushed the unemployment rate down.
"Our best answer here is that more people stopped looking for work," says Steve Chiavarone, portfolio manager at Federated Investors. "The headline numbers here are OK, but the underlying numbers are less rosy."
In fact, "labor participation" is a better measure of how many people are actually working and it's not quite as ecstasy-inducing:
The labor force participation rate has been at or below 63% for 31 straight months; the longest stretch since the 1… https://t.co/DDnU7nEwtQ— Fox News Research (@Fox News Research)1480208581.0
So, yes, the unemployment rate is the lowest since 2007. But the actual labor participation rate is at the lowest it had been in four decades.
Also important is the kind of new jobs that compose the Obama "recovery" — they're not nearly as good as the ones lost in the great financial collapse. According to an analysis by the New York Times in May, many of the jobs are "part time, temporary or seasonal minimum-wage positions offering scant benefits, mostly in the service sector." A few high-wage sectors are increasing, but much of the job growth is in employment that weakens the financial security of Americans instead of strengthening it.
But you won't hear that from those praising Obama for the lowest unemployment rate since 2007.