Unexpectedly Intriguing!
February 4, 2011

The February 2011 Employment Situation report indicates that 228,000 young adults (Age 20-24) found work in January 2011, but that 154,000 older individuals (Age 25+) were no longer counted as being part of the U.S. work force. Meanwhile, teens (Age 16-19) saw a mild improvement, with 43,000 more counted as having jobs in January than in December 2010.

Change in Number of Employed by Age Group Since Total Employment Peak Reached in November 2007, Through January 2011

For January 2011, 139,323,000 Americans have been counted as having jobs, which is up by 117,000 from the level recorded for December 2010. Compared to November 2007, when total employment peaked in the United States one month ahead of when the most recent recession officially began, some 7,261,000 fewer Americans are being counted among the employed portion of the U.S. civilian labor force.

No significant sustained improvement in the number of employed Americans has been recorded since March 2010. During that time, the total number of employed Americans has ranged between 138,909,000 (recorded in November 2010) and 139,382,000 (recorded in April 2010), with the average from March 2010 through January 2011 set at 139,176,091.

And yet, despite no significant or sustained improvement in the U.S. employment situation over that time, the official unemployment rate has seemingly and suddenly improved from 9.8% in November 2010 to 9.4% in December 2010 to 9.0% in January 2011.

The reason the official unemployment rate has fallen so dramatically over that three month span of time, even though the number of employed Americans hasn't meaningfully changed since March 2010, is directly due to a very large number of Americans becoming discouraged and exiting the portion of the civilian labor force who are employed or are actively seeking work.

We see that in the decline in the number of individuals counted as being unemployed. In November 2010, some 15,041,000 Americans were counted as unemployed, but that figure has plummeted by 1,178,000 to 13,863,000 in January 2011.

So it's not that the job situation is getting better, so much as roughly 1.2 million Americans who were looking for work in November 2007 are no longer participating in any meaningful way in the U.S. job market.

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