Epstein on Latest Jobs News
One story has dominated the economic news this past weekend. The story is that job creation has slowed to a “trickle,” in the words of a Wall Street Journal headline. Only 88,000 new jobs were created in the month of March. That feeble rate was accompanied by the “good” news that the jobless rate, which only counts those actively seeking work as unemployed, had dropped from 7.7 to 7.6 percent.
The real news was that the decline in the unemployment rate was explained by the separation of nearly half a million people from the workforce, so that labor-force participation shrunk from about 67.3 percent in early 2000 to about 63.3 percent today. A crude first approximation of the real unemployment rate would add back at least 4 lost percentage points. A more accurate estimation of the actual unemployment rate would account for those individuals who were out of the market by 2000 in part because of the impediments to market performance that were already in place.
With these weak numbers, the political discussion has continued to focus on job creation and economic growth: How should these goals