The big news this morning is that the unemployment rate dropped below 8% last month. Obama supporters are ecstatic over this good news and Romney supporters like former GE CEO, Jack Welch, are talking conspiracy theories.
I believe, however, that it’s important to put the unemployment rate into some context rather than simply look at it in isolation. Bill McBride has been doing a great job of this for years now.
The chart below comes from their latest analysis. It shows that even after today’s celebrated number the unemployment rate is still higher than any time over the past twenty years. And the labor force participation rate (the percent of the overall population actively involved in the workforce) is the lowest it’s been in roughly thirty years.
This next chart, which up until now has been called “the scariest jobs chart ever,” shows that this “recovery” is the weakest for jobs since World War II. And we still have a very long way to go to simply recover the jobs lost during the last recession, let alone get back to growing the job market.