The Real Jobless Rate

The government says unemployment is "down" to 10%. But better measures suggest things are worse

Harry Campbell for TIME

At 8:30 on the morning of the first Friday in December, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the unemployment rate had fallen to 10% in November from 10.2% the month before. Hooray! Headlines heralded the unexpected drop. Stock prices surged. Enthused White House press secretary Robert Gibbs: "We're moving in the right direction."

By late morning, though, stocks were slumping. Commentators began to focus on concerns with the numbers. By the following Monday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was warning that "we still have some way to go before we can be assured that the recovery will be self-sustaining."


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