Labor

What's Really Wrong With the Unemployment Rate

Changes in the labor market outweigh changes in methodology.

That's one way to leave the labor force.

Photographer: William West/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.9 percent in July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s the same as in July 1997. Does this mean the labor market is as healthy now as it was then, in the early days of the late-1990s boom? No, it doesn’t.

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