In the weakest recovery since the Great Depression, most of the reduction in unemployment from its 10.0 percent peak in October 2009 has been accomplished through a significant drop in the percentage of adults working or looking for work. Were adult labor-force participation the same today, the unemployment rate would be 9.7 percent.
Adding in part time workers who would prefer full employment but can’t find it, the unemployment rate becomes 14.4 percent. It rose above 14 percent in the wake of the financial crisis and remains stuck there.
Convincing millions of Americans they don’t want a job or compelling desperate workers to settle for part time work has been the Obama administration’s most effective jobs program.