Over at Ace of Spades, they note that the jobs report from late last week wasn’t as good as the headlines might suggest:
About 2.3 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in March, compared with 2.1 million a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were [presto changeo!] not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. [pull rabbit out of hat!]They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. (See table A-16.)
Among the marginally attached, there were 1.0 million discouraged workers in March, up by 309,000 from a year earlier.
Two months ago, back when only 929,000 Americans were classified as “discouraged workers”, I did a demonstration with little plastic figures on how the number of people with jobs can go down while the unemployment rate declines or stays the same:
This morning, the Washington Post and the administration are finally talking about this hidden factor:
Those described as discouraged — who are available and want to work but have stopped looking for jobs — can affect the data significantly because of how the government calculates the jobless rate. They are considered part of the labor force and are counted in the official unemployment rate only if they are looking for work. So dropping out can deflate the rate, and resuming a search can inflate it.