January 6, 2012

DAN MITCHELL: New Unemployment Numbers Are Good News for the White House, but the Silver Cloud Has a Dark Lining. “If the unemployment rate drops because hundreds of thousands of jobs are being created each month, that’s obviously good news. But if the jobless rate falls because the government estimates that lots of people have become discouraged and dropped out of the labor force, then that’s not good news.” Well, it is if nobody notices.

Related: James Pethokoukis: What the plunging unemployment rate really means for Obama’s reelection. “Those headline economic numbers are terribly misleading, hardly reflecting the devastation most Americans still see every day. An 8.5 percent unemployment rate? Please. If the size of the U.S. labor force was as large as it was when Barack Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be 10.9 percent. But since so many people have gotten discouraged and stopped looking for work– and thus disappeared by government statisticians — the jobless number has been artificially depressed. A better gauge of the jobs picture is the broader U-6 rate, which includes part-timers who would rather have full-time jobs. It stands at a whopping 15.2 percent.”

UPDATE: Even over at MSNBC, 58% say the economy isn’t improving.

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