Ben Casselman at 538, on unemployment and underemployment, starting from this point.
The U.S. labor force is the smallest it’s been since the 1970s as a share of the adult population: 62.8 percent today, down from 66 percent in December 2007, when the recession began. If the labor force participation rate had remained unchanged over that time, nearly 8 million more Americans would be in the workforce today. The government defines the “labor force” as everyone over the age of 15 who’s either working (i.e. employed) or actively looking for work (i.e. unemployed).
There are, Casselman explains:
… two extremes: In one, the weak economy is responsible for the entire decline, while in the other it can be attributed to longer-term demographic forces.
From there, his analysis leads to some seriously unpleasant conclusions and makes reading the whole thing both worthwhile and troubling.
Long-term unemployment, in some cases, does not even show up in the jobless figures released monthly by the Labor Department and eagerly anticipated by the political spinners standing by to mold them into partisan shape. Many of those whose unemployment has been prolonged simply give up; something that is confirmed by a recent study from a former Obama administration economic advisor. As Ben Casselman of 538 writes:
Millions of Americans, glutted with benefits that until now have seemed likely to be renewed and renewed again, have suddenly become devoid of ambition, shed the work ethic, and taken to the couch and the TV remote. Or found a back pain or emotional problem that entitles them to the even higher benefits designed to ameliorate the plight of truly disabled workers.
A recently released Department of Agriculture (USDA) report on the "Food Assistance Landscape" for the fiscal year 2013 shows that for the second year in a row, participation in the federal government's SNAP (food stamps)
The latest jobs numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
The unemployment rate declined from 7.0 percent to 6.7 percent in December, while total nonfarm payroll employment edged up (+74,000), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment rose in retail trade and wholesale trade but was down in information. …
House speaker John Boehner released a statement Tuesday concerning "'emergency' unemployment insurance" (Boehner's quotation marks) and criticizing President Obama for not offering a plan to extend unemployment insurance that would include provisions to "put people back to work." Here's the statement:
Those employed by the government may be back at work but many, many others are not. Which has been the case for so long now that it is no longer news. Not so long as it is possible to discuss who won and who lost the epic Battle of the Ceiling.
The Labor Department announced Monday the awarding of $64 million in grants to help unemployment insurance recipients find work more quickly. The funds will be divided up between thirty-eight states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia. Acting Labor Secretary Seth Harris announced the awards:
The first of this week's three big employment numbers was released this morning. Tomorrow, we will learn the first-time claims number. Friday, the unemployment number and rate for the previous month. As this item from Reuters indicates, the signs are not good: