Headlines read “36,000 jobs added last month” as if this was some kind of record shattering figure. It should have read:
“500,000 Americans drop out of the labor force thus pushing the unemployment rate lower for the wrong reasons.”
According to US government BLS figures as of January 2011:
Civilian labor force (Dec 2010): 153,690,000
Civilian labor force (Jan 2011): 153,186,000
Over 500,000 people just disappeared [dropped out] from the labor force.
Matt Taibbi explains: