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Unemployment Rate: Up. Discouraged Workers: Up. McCaskill: Looks Strong to Me!

Sen. Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, looks at today’s unemployment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and concludes: ”Another strong jobs report.”

Indeed, the numbers indicate that the U.S. economy created 244,000 jobs in the past month.

However, the unemployment rate actually increased from 8.8 percent to 9 percent. What’s more, the number of “discouraged workers” — those who haven’t looked for a job in six months — increased from 921,000 to 989,000, and those marginally attached to the workforce increased from 2,434,000 to 2,466,000. Not huge jumps, but certainly not moving in the right direction.

The labor participation rate — already strikingly low compared with the past few decades — remained the same at 64.2 percent.

If you’re wondering how the private sector can create jobs, labor participation can remain the same, and unemployment can still increase, it is because the figure of the number of jobs created comes from BLS surveying establishments — i.e., employers — while the unemployment-rate figure stems from surveying households. Each month, BLS conducts a sample survey called the Current Population Survey (CPS) to measure the extent of unemployment in the country, talking to 60,000 households, or approximately approximately 110,000 individuals.  The process is laid out here.


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