We get a lot of confusing information from the media. One important figure that consistently gets under-reported is the Labor Force Participation Rate. This is the percentage of working-age persons in an economy who:
Are employed, or
Are unemployed but looking for a job
Typically "working-age persons" is defined as people between the ages of 16-64. People in those age groups who are not counted as participating in the labor force are typically students, homemakers, and persons under the age of 64 who are retired.
The Labor Force Participation Rate is currently at a 30 year low. We just had the largest absolute jump in 'Persons Not In Labor Force' on record...and biggest percentage jump in 30 years:
When the Labor Force Participation Rate starts going back up, and unemployment rate goes down, then you have a real economic recovery. Right now we aren't even adding enough new jobs each month to keep up with population growth.
The numbers are hard to track because the BLS updated their population figures for the new year to reflect the changes from the census. The workforce population now stands at 242.269 million, up about 1.7 million from last month. Obviously the population didn’t grow by 1.7 million in one month; those numbers reflect updated data from the BLS.
So there are now 1.2 million more people who are not in the labor force relative to the population. The labor participation force rate now stands at 63.7%, the lowest in 30 years. That is a very unhealthy labor force.
FACT: If the labor force participation rate were at the same level it was when Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be 11%.