The unemployment rate held at a seven-year low of 5.3 percent in July, so that must mean all is well on the jobs front, right? Not exactly, says former Wall Street Journal columnist Simon Constable.
"Today’s unemployment rate isn’t anywhere close to what economists call full employment, which usually involves some small level of unemployment, where people spend at least some time looking for new positions or finding work after they’ve quit," he writes on Ozy, a financial news service
Remember that the unemployment rate includes only those actively seeking a job. "Over the past decade, a lot of people simply haven’t been looking," Constable points out.
The labor force participation rate stands at 37-year low of 62.6 percent down from 66 percent 10 years ago. That means 8.5 million people have dropped out of the workforce.
Then there are marginal workers, those who have part-time jobs but want full-time jobs. If you include them, the jobless rate is 10.4 percent.
The government releases August jobs numbers Friday. Economists predict a 223,000 gain in non-farm payrolls, compared to 215,000 in July, according to Bloomberg.
Elsewhere on the economic front, some notable economists argue that technological innovations in the future won't raise our living standards as much as they have in the past, dooming the economy to slow growth.
But Harvard economist Martin Feldstein begs to differ.
While GDP growth per worker has shrunk markedly since 1972, "the official statistics on GDP growth fail to capture most of the gains in our standard of living that come from new and improved goods and services," he writes on Project Syndicate
. So the depressed numbers don't account for air conditioning, new surgical procedures etc.
The economy has grown only 2.1 percent a year since the Great Recession ended in June 2009, compared to a rate of 3 percent from 1960 to now. But that doesn't mean we're doomed to poverty, Feldstein says.
"There is simply no reason for the view ... that the children of today will not enjoy a standard of living as high as their parents’." To guarantee a bright future, we need to improve education, boost savings and investment and reform taxes and entitlements, Feldstein says.
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