References to the falling unemployment rate naturally lead to concerns about people dropping out of the labor force rather than getting jobs. For my part, I do think there’s something to be said for respecting people’s stated preferences about labor force participation and relying on the old-fashioned unemployment rate. But Karl Smith throws together another indicator, replicated above, which shows that by the broadest possible measure, after a sharp collapse the number of people with jobs is now growing faster than the non-institutionalized population.
Improving from a low base is not the greatest achievement in the world and I’m in no rush to break out the champagne for policymakers who’ve given us this long grinding recession. But things do seem to be improving.