The WSJ on the unemployment rate, the work force, and food stamps

Wall Street JournalThree articles about Obama’s economy from the Wall Street Journal:

Unemployment Rate Drops for Wrong Reasons

The U.S. unemployment rate dropped 0.1 percentage point to 7.3% in August and a broader measure of unemployment fell to 13.7% from 14%, but the declines came from the wrong reasons.The drop in the main unemployment rate was driven almost totally by negative factors. The number of people employed fell by about 115,000. The only reason the rate declined is that the overall labor force dropped by a larger 312,000, a possible sign of discouraged long-term jobless dropping out.

The labor force participation rate, which is the percent of the population either working or looking to work, took a tumble to 63.2% — its lowest level since 1978.

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Why Is U.S. Work Force Shrinking?

The labor force participation rate in the U.S. fell in August to the lowest level since 1978, a development that may reflect the lack of higher-paying jobs in the economy.

Participation in the workforce has trended down steadily since early 2008, near the start of the recession, and fell last month to 63.2%.

A number of factors are driving the trend, including an aging population, women no longer entering the labor force at increasing rates and a growing fraction of those with college educations not working.

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Why Is One-Sixth of U.S. on Food Stamps?

Food-stamp use grew 2.3% in June from a year earlier, with nearly one-sixth of the U.S. population receiving benefits.

Illinois showed the largest enrollment increase from last year with a 14.7% gain, according to Agriculture Department data released Friday. Wyoming was in second place, with rolls up 11.1% since the same time last year. Utah experienced the largest annual decline in food-stamp use, dropping 11.2%, among a dozen states to post a decrease. (Enrollment also decreased in Arizona, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Washington.)

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