September employment numbers came out yesterday. I like to track the male employment-population ratio (one of the few things that Calculated Risk doesn't) because, in my version of the Protestant work ethic (not that I'm Protestant, but I was brought up that way
Clearly, there are always going to be some people between jobs, going back to college as mature students, etc, so 100% is not to be expected. 95% sounds pretty good. However, with the beginning of the loss of manufacturing jobs to Asian competition, it began to decline, until now it hovers just above 80%. I think this represents a big problem, and one that is not necessarily clear in the unemployment rate. In a country that doesn't have long-term unemployment benefits, once benefits run out people are going to have to find an alternative way to survive. Whether that's crime (or the resulting jail time), living off a partner's earnings, filing a dubious disability claim, etc, they are not going to show up on the unemployment rolls.
The most recent numbers show that the brief recovery of late 2009 and 2010 is over (now that the growth effects of ARRA are mostly over) and we are pretty much treading water.
Not so good.