The government recently announced a drop in the unemployment rate to 8.3% and the addition of 243,000 nonfarm jobs. Getting less attention was a decrease of roughly 1.2 million people in the labor force to a 30-year low. If you are not in the labor force, by definition, you cannot be unemployed, and thus, the unemployment rate looks better as a result regardless of how many jobs are created. This is readily visible on the chart below from zerohedge.com No matter how the government counts them, those 1.2 million people do not have jobs. You can decide what the numbers mean, but think about that the next time the water carriers for the Obama administration are congratulating themselves on the economy.
Here is an interesting tool you might have some fun with. The Minneapolis Fed (minneapolisfed.org) has at their website a series of interactive tools that you can use to compare employment and output for post-WWII recessions and recoveries. If you really want to have some fun, compare the recovery for the 2007 recession (officially the recession ended in 2009) to other recoveries. You will clearly see how slow and anemic the recovery has been since 2009. Compare the 1981 recovery to the current recovery and you get a vivid illustration of the effect of good policy (Reagan) vs. bad policy (Obama). Maybe the Republicans running for the Presidential nomination needs to take a look.