Woo-hoo! Almost 250k new jobs! Unemployment below 6% for the first time in six years! Drinks on the house!
The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 3.0 million in September. These individuals accounted for 31.9 percent of the unemployed. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term unemployed is down by 1.2 million.
The civilian labor force participation rate, at 62.7 percent, changed little in September. The employment-population ratio was 59.0 percent for the fourth consecutive month.
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed in September at 7.1 million. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.
In September, 2.2 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, essentially unchanged from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.
There’s good news here—a quarter-million jobs is a quarter million jobs—but the truth of the numbers is that three million people—almost a third of all unemployed—have been jobless for more than six months. If I read the language right, 2.2 million of those have been jobless for at least a year. Another 7.1 million can’t find full-time work.
Excuse me if I’m not persuaded by more than ten million Americans who haven’t been able to find a better job, or any job at all, for months. And that the numbers are “essentially unchanged” from other recent miserable reports. Excuse me if I find dropping unemployment poor compensation for a historically bottom-scraping civilian labor force participation rate and employment-population ratio.
An unemployment rate of 5.9% may seem a return to normalcy, but this is a fundamentally changed America. Legions of workers have drifted into the shadows, never to return. Once, they helped push the cart; today, through no fault of their own, they’re along for ride. Sorry to be the cloud in your silver lining.