“As the most widely reported rate of unemployment (U-3) has fallen in recent months, people with a political agenda served by painting a rosy picture of the recovery have made considerable noise about this decrease. Their political opponents have responded that one reason for the decline is that the labor force has fallen as more people have given up looking for work, some of them going into retirement sooner than they would have if the labor market had been more robust.
The best way to avoid the parsing and cherry-picking that plague such debates is to look not at unemployment, but at employment. After all, it’s employment that contributes to the production of goods and services and generates earnings for the job holders. Employment is less subject to interpretive ambiguity than unemployment is.
The most recently reported data on private nonfarm employment, for January 2012, show that employment has indeed continued its recovery. Since reaching its current-recession trough about two years ago, it has increased by about 3 million persons. Before starting a celebration, however, we should recognize that private nonfarm employment is still about 5 million persons less than it was at its pre-recession peak in 2008.” - Private Employment Has Recouped Only Three-Eighths of Its Recent Loss, Robert Higgs, 02/19/2012
Link to the entire article appears below: