US unemployment fell to 8.6 percent in November, the lowest level in more than 2 years. But let’s take a look at the real figures — without the spin. The unemployment rate only includes those who have actively looked for work in the prior 4 weeks. That excludes anyone who has abandoned hope of finding a job and is no longer seeking work. The Jobless Rate below paints a far bleaker picture, reflecting all unemployed, either full-time or part-time, whether or not they are seeking work. The chart is restricted to males aged 25 to 54 in order to minimize demographic factors that could cause wider variations among females, youth under the age of 25, or 55 or older.
There is a visible improvement, with a fall below 18 percent, but we are a long way from the lows of 12 percent recorded in the last boom. Apart from the massive spike in 2008, what is also evident is the long-term up-trend: the jobless rate has increased steadily over the last 60 years — from a low of just 3.6 percent in 1953. We are a long way from being able to congratulate ourselves on the recovery.