Editor’s note: Heidi Shierholz is a labor market economist with the Economic Policy Institute in Washington. She is a co-author of “The State of Working America.”
(CNN) – On Labor Day, we celebrate the American worker. And more than four years since the Great Recession ended in June 2009, the unemployment rate is 7.4%, a big improvement from the high of 10% in the fall of 2009. Unfortunately, the rate is hugely misleading: Most of that improvement was for all the wrong reasons.
Remember, jobless workers are not counted as being part of the labor force unless they are actively looking for work, and the decline in the unemployment rate since its peak has mostly been the result of workers dropping out of — or not entering — the labor force.
According to Congressional Budget Office estimates, if the labor market were healthy, the labor force would number about 159.2 million. But the actual labor force numbers just 155.8 million. That means about 3.4 million “missing workers” are out there — jobless people who would be in the labor force if job opportunities were strong.
Given the weak labor market, they’re not actively looking for work and so aren’t counted. If those missing workers were actively looking, the unemployment rate would be 9.4%.
Read More at CNN . By Heidi Shieholz.
Photo Credit: forwardstl (Creative Commons)