How Do We Measure Economic Change?

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

A job seeker looks through green job pamphlets at the Green Jobs and Entrepeneurship Fair on February 16, 2011 in Berkeley, California. (Getty)

It's a fact: Our workforce is shrinking. And as it shrinks, the unemployment rate is also shrinking. Critics of President Obama have been quick to say the president hasn't actually created jobs — the falling unemployment rate just means fewer people are trying to find work. But economists say the situation is more complicated, and that the workforce was shrinking long before Obama took office.

So how do we actually measure change in the economy? And what does a shrinking workforce mean for America?

Betsey Stevenson is a former chief economist with the Labor Department. Charlie Herman is business and economics editor for our partner station, WNYC.


Charlie Herman and Betsey Stevenson

Produced by:

John Light

Comments [3]


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Mar. 07 2013 02:42 AM
Angel from Miami, FL

"JOBS JOBS JOBS" is just a illusionist's distraction. The corporations are being operated by the "ME" generation now. The endgame is to punish working Americans, pull the money out of circulation, and create "cities in the clouds". Common good, patriotism, national pride? In boardrooms, those principles are just marketing taglines used to sell foreign-made products of inferior quality. The bulk of money saved by reorganization goes into exec benefits and MORE advertising. R&D comes only when they acquire a start-up developing the next new thing. Share prices go up not when profits are actually made on projections that might not be realized. Companies established for a specific industry are diversified into unrelated industries. Schools now teach generic business philosophies that no one can ever custom fit to any particular business. Gordon Gecko is laughing. Greed IS good. Sit back and watch the implosion.

May. 08 2012 02:21 PM

The parade of specious reasoning regarding the rapid shrinking of the number of workers is wholly unconvincing.

People in the 80s and 90s are dropping out of the work force in the last thee years? Give me a break.
Try people in their 40s and 50s dropping out because they cannot find full time work.
People staying in school because they cannot find a job will now bury themselves under student loans which they cannot pay back. That is a good thing?

Four years ago unemployment was not a huge problem so what happened since then? Could it be the current administration's war business that has led to the lack of growth and hiring? It is truly ruining people's lives and this administration is doubling down on their failed policy.

Millions of former full time workers are working part-time and freelance in the last three years and living on savings which is not sustainable despite the happy horse stuff the media is peddling and nobody is believing.

May. 08 2012 10:42 AM

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