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Jobs report: unemployment rate down, but few new jobs available

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the monthly jobs report for January this morning and, once again, what appears to be very good news on the surface is really bad news when you look at the details.

The good news on the surface is that the national unemployment rate dropped a whopping .4 percent, down to 9 percent overall. The bad news in the details is that it did so while the economy only created a net 36,000 new jobs, which means nearly the entire decline is due not to people finding jobs but to people exhausting their unemployment benefits and joining the shadow world of the 99ers — uncounted.

In fact, the labor force participation rate dropped to 64.2 percent, the lowest level since the early 1980s. Once someone has exhausted their benefits, they are no longer counted as unemployed and no longer counted as a part of the labor force. So this drop in unemployment that looks like rosy news is actually very bad news for the economy.

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