Let’s Not Celebrate the 3.9% Unemployment Rate

There are lots of headlines today that are focused on the headline unemployment rate falling to 3.9 percent. I guess that’s why they call it the headline unemployment rate.

But this month it’s a mirage. Here’s an excerpt from the household survey that the BLS uses to calculate the unemployment rate:

Take a look at those numbers. The number of unemployed is indeed down by 239,000, but where did they go? Not to the ranks of the employed, which rose by only 3,000. It turns out they left the labor force entirely, which is why the civilian labor force fell by 236,000 even though the total population grew.

So, sure, the unemployment rate is down, but it’s because 236,000 people gave up and quit looking for work—which means they no longer get counted as unemployed. This is bad news, not good.

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TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

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