Unemployment is down. But then so is employment.


Unemployment was down to 4.0% last month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost back to 3.5%, where it was two years ago before the pandemic. And the number of people receiving unemployment benefits hasn’t been this low in 52 years, says the Department of Labor, with 1,476,000 people receiving unemployment insurance in the week ending Feb. 12 (1.1% of the labor force). That’s the lowest level since March 14, 1970 and down 67% from a year ago, when nearly 4.5 million people were on unemployment benefits.

The employment rate is still down, however: Just 59.7% of the potential workforce was employed in January. That’s more than at any point in 2021, but less than it’s been for most of the past four decades. It seems a growing number of potential workers are not employed, looking for work or getting UI payments.


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