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Donald Marron

Unemployment numbers shows jobs up, but not by enough

Unemployment numbers coming out from the BLS today show payrolls up 80,000, a weak gain not enough to counteract the large numbers of continued unemployed. The employment rate continues to remain low.

By Guest blogger / July 6, 2012

In this June 2012, file photo, Ashley Perkins, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., stands in line at a job fair in Detroit. Unemployment numbers released today show slow growth. High unemployment will bedevil whoever occupies the White House for the next four years. According to a survey of 32 economists, the unemployment rate will exceed its “normal” range of 5 to 6 percent until 2015 or later.

Paul Sancya/AP

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Another weak jobs report with payrolls up only 80,000, unemployment stuck at 8.2 percent, and underemployment ticking up to 14.9 percent.

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Donald B. Marron is director of economic policy initiatives at the Urban Institute. He previously served as a member of the President's Council of Economic Advisers and as acting director of the Congressional Budget Office.

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But the real news continues to be how far employment has fallen. As recently as 2006, more than 63 percent of adults had a job. Today, that figure is less than 59 percent.

With the exception of the past several years, you’ve got to go back almost three decades to find the last time that so few Americans were employed (as a share of the adult population).

The stunning decline in the employment-to-population ratio (epop to its friends) reflects two related factors. First, the unemployment rate has increased from less than 5 percent to more than 8 percent. That accounts for roughly half the fall in epop. The other half reflects lower labor force participation. Slightly more than 66 percent of adults were in the labor force back them, but now it’s less than 64 percent.

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