Economics, U.S. Economy

A solid month for a bad labor market

US recessions

Today’s jobs report confirms that the recovery continues to march on at its too-slow-but-steady pace. Payroll gains of 203,000 were welcome news, as was the decline in the unemployment rate from 7.2% in September to 7.0% in November. (It’s best to just ignore the household survey for October.)

But it’s important not to confuse a good month with a good situation overall. The labor force participation rate is down 0.6 percentage points from one year ago, and the rate of employment – the share of the working-age population with jobs – is down 0.1 percentage points from November 2012. Does that sound like a recovery to you?

The labor market for the least-skilled workers is also in bad shape. The unemployment rate for high school dropouts stands at 10.8%, and 20.8% of young workers are unemployed.

We know from this morning’s jobs report that there were 4.1 million Americans who had been unemployed for 27 weeks or more in November. This tragic reality is especially salient this month, as emergency federal unemployment benefits will expire three days after Christmas, unless reauthorized by Congress. How should conservatives respond to the expiration of emergency benefits? See my new essay in the next issue of The Weekly Standard for my take.

Michael R. Strain is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Follow him on Twitter at, where he live Tweets the jobs numbers each month.

Follow AEIdeas on Twitter at @AEIdeas.

One thought on “A solid month for a bad labor market

  1. I would like to see citations and references as to where you are getting your information. This would make all articles much more credible and reliably. Also easier to share and teach others.

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