Friday, May 3, 2013

The share of American adults with jobs has barely changed since 2010, hovering between 58.2% and 58.7%

This employment-to-population ratio stood at 58.6% in April 2013. That is about four percentage points lower than the employment rate before the recession, a difference of roughly 10 million jobs. In other words, the United States economy is not getting any closer to recreating the jobs lost during the recession. This lack of progress has been obscured by the steady decline of the high-profile unemployment rate, which continued in April 2013. But the unemployment rate is easily misunderstood. The government counts as unemployed only those who are actively looking for new jobs. As people have given up, the unemployment rate has declined – not because more people are working, but because more people have stopped looking for work. The federal government counts 11.7 million Americans as unemployed. The real number, it follows, is more like 17 million. The number of Americans receiving disability benefits has increased by 1.8 million since the recession began, and people on disability rarely return to the work force, even if they would have preferred to keep working in the first place.

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