Armchair Quarterbacking of the Unemployment Rate

04/01/2015 05:05 pm ET | Updated Apr 05, 2015

We love to play armchair quarterback, questioning controversial calls and plays. For weeks, we were fascinated by under-inflated footballs affixing blame as we saw it.

What about applying the same vigor and interest in areas where we all need expertise: our jobs, careers, and future opportunities?; Unemployment , the labor participation rate, and the underemployed.

In the 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama stated:

Our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999. Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis.

Yes, the unemployment rate is 5.6 percent, the lowest level since 2008. But, this does not fully describe the picture of Americans out of work and out of their careers.

We hear the cheers of the dropping unemployment rate, a clear win using this indicator but we must look beyond the surface of this indicator.

Americans are happy with the unemployment rate and what American employer wouldn't be happy with a low single digit turnover rate; so why does this not FEEL like success?

Many of us do not know how this figure is calculated by the federal government.

People are classified as unemployed if they do not have a job, have actively looked for work in the prior four weeks, and are currently available for work, no more, no less.

While the unemployment rate is respected as the final score and indicator of employment in the U.S., we feel like it is humming along consistent with a commendable 5.6 percent rate of unemployment. Clearly, this is not the only measure that should be considered.

Should there be a spiking of the ball for this measurement or shouldn't we include the jobless rate that includes Americans out of work for extended periods of time. We all know Americans who are struggling with the lack of job/career opportunities and it is a common problem.

What are the considerations for the whole picture of unemployment in America? We need to consider several factors -- the labor pool, as well as the dejected people leaving the candidate pool , the jobless rate of recent college graduates, teenage and minority unemployment rates, and the reduction in working hours at companies limiting full-time work due to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

This reported success does not take into consideration the underemployed, people not considered still unemployed but are working in part-time, temporary, otherwise considered underemployed to meet their needs. The Bureau of Labor Studies estimates that there are 7.3 million people in the underemployed category including 44% of recent college graduates.

A critical indicator and more accurate measurement of the jobs picture is the Labor Force Participation Rate. This is a critical reveal of American civilians in the workforce age 16 and over. In December, 2014, the labor participation rate was only 62.7%, the lowest since 1978.

There is more to this story with reveals and indicators about how Americans rate and feel about their economic conditions.

According to Gallup, the most important problem facing our country is the economy and jobs.

According to PBS, 72% of Americans think we are still in a recession, not indicative of a low, single digit unemployment rate.

The NY Times poll indicates; we are at the point of the lowest confidence in believing in the American Dream in twenty years.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we have increased 9.2 million part-time jobs since the recession. While there is little current evidence that companies are reducing working hours to below the 30 hour threshold for requiring health insurance with the Obamacare ingredients, it is still expected to increase part-time positions. (The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office predicts a loss of 2.9 million jobs by 2024.)

From the horse's mouth per Se, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been surveyed about their hiring behavior related to the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare.

"In a report released in November, the Chamber and the International Franchise Association found that businesses have already cut full-time jobs, despite the one-year delay of the employer mandate. According to the survey, 31% of franchise and 12% of non-franchise businesses report that they have already reduced worker hours because of the impending law, more than a full year before the employer mandate goes into effect. Additionally, 27% of franchise and 12% of non-franchise businesses report that they have already replaced full-time workers with part-time employees because of the law."

The most critical considerations are the end-all opinions and experiences of the American public. There is a lot of armchair quarterbacking yet to consider about the unemployment and labor participation rates.