The economy added 157,000 jobs in January and unemployment rose to 7.9 percent as the economy slowed in the fourth quarter. Unemployment would have been worse had not even more adults -169,000- chosen to join the ranks of those neither working or seeking employment.
Hiring and layoffs tend to lag other economic indicators. GDP fell 0.1 percent i n the fourth quarter, fears of a government shutdown slowed consumer spending in December and encouraged businesses to cut inventories. Even if the economy doesn't slip into a recession, unemployment would rocket.
In the weakest recovery since the Great Depression, most of the reduction in unemployment from its 10.0 percent peak in October 2009 has been accomplished through a significant drop in the percentage of adults working or looking for work. Were adult labor-force participation the same today, the unemployment rate would be 9.9 percent, and were the participation rate the same as when President Obama took office it would be more than 10 percent.
Adding in part time workers who would prefer full employment but can't find it, the unemployment rate becomes 14.4 percent. It rise above 14 percent in the wake of the financial crisis and remains stuck there.
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