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July 2, 2015

That 5.3 Percent Unemployment Rate Makes the Job Market Look Better Than It Is

Today's jobs report was a bit weaker than expected, and a bit weaker than it looked at first blush. While payrolls were up 223,000 in June, in line with expectations, and the unemployment rate fell to a record low in this recovery of 5.3 percent, there were several mitigating factors. Hourly wage growth was flat in June, a slight deceleration from last month's report, while the labor force participation rate ticked down a significant 0.3 percentage points to 62.6 percent, its lowest level since the late 1970s. As the job market has gradually tightened, I've expected to see some upward movement in the participation rate. The fact that this has yet to occur suggests that there is much more slack than the 5.3 percent unemployment rate suggests.

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