The real key to the true unemployment situation in the United States is the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) “Labor Force Participation Rate” statistic. It is defined in the BLS web site as:
“Labor force participation rate”
The labor force as a percent of the civilian noninstitutional population.
In other words, this is the percentage of all civilians in the country who are actually working. This statistic avoids the misconceptions created by the standard unemployment data. You see, a person drops off the unemployment rolls if they give up looking for work. They become hidden from unemployment statistics, but they still show up in the Labor Force Participation Rate calculations.
So, it is instructive to look at how the Labor Force Participation Rate has trended over the past decade.
This graph from the BLS shows that.
Graph downloaded from here.
Clearly, the impacts of the recession starting in 2008 continue and are worsening for an increasingly invisible part of our population that the government doesn’t even track anymore with its unemployment statistics.