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The Problem with Going Back to Work


Some silver clouds have gray linings.

On the surface, the most recent U.S. jobs report brought good news, with the unemployment rate falling to a six-year low of 5.9 percent.

But the news isn’t all rosy. The number of Americans on the outside of the labor force looking in hit 13,346,000 in September, a high since the December, 2007, start of the Great Recession. Thegraph of those not in the labor force is disturbingly parallel to the trend of recovery in non-farm payrolls.

Further, the number of underemployed, while steadily improving, remains frustratingly high, with 7 million people working part-time out of necessity, and the number of unemployed, marginally attached and part time workers at 11.8 percent.

The news is even more bleak for black and Hispanic workers, who are suffering unemployment rates of 11 percent and 6.9 percent, respectively.

For workers on the margins, little wonder this recovery hasn’t felt much like a recovery.

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