On That Rise in the Unemployment Rate

BLS released the Employment Situation Summary for July 2008 today:

The unemployment rate rose to 5.7 percent, and nonfarm payroll employment continued to trend down in July (-51,000)

Since the BLS also claimed that the employment-population ratio (EP) remained at 62.4% and the labor force participation rate (LFP) remained at 66.1% – one might be wondering how the unemployment ratio rose. It seems EP fell from 62.446% to 62.352, while LFP rose from 66.084% to 66.108%. Gotta watch those rounding of numbers.

While the decline in the employment-population ratio was modest last month, this ratio has declined from 63.4% as of December 2006 and from 64.4% as of December 2000. The unemployment rate today is higher than it was as of December 2000 even though the labor force participation rate has declined from 67% to 66.1%. Somehow, however, I bet the White House paints another one of its Pollyanna portraits of this weak labor market.