When a Falling Jobless Rate Is Bad News

Photograph by Ashley Gilbertson/VII Network

When is good news bad news? When we’re talking jobs. In the upside-down logic of the labor market, a falling unemployment rate can sometimes be a worrisome sign if it indicates that people have permanently given up looking for work. If you’ve quit looking for work, you’re no longer considered part of the labor force. And if you’re not in the labor force, you’re technically not unemployed. So the jobless rate, now at 8.3 percent, falls for the worst of reasons.

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