Brad DeLong, among others, has been pointing out that, even though unemployment claims are down, a lot of this can be explained by people dropping out of the work force rather than the creation of more jobs. Kevin Drum points to a post by Kash of Angry Bear, who graphs labor force participation by both sex and education and finds that men and college graduates have declined in their level of participation while women have held steady and those with less than a high school education have been climbing steadily in their level of participation. Kash has some speculation about what this means but says he “honestly doesn’t know.” Kevin skips the speculation and simply notes that it’s interesting.
I’m having trouble deciphering the charts, since the Y axis on both of them is labeled on both the left and right side–and the numbers aren’t the same on each side. On the sex chart, the left side ranges from 65.5 to 68 and the right from 58.5 to 61 in increments of 0.5 on both sides. On the education chart, from 37 to 47 in increments of one and 77 to 82 in increments of two. I’ve emailed Kash to get clarification. Once I figure out what the actual numbers are, I may or may not take a crack at throwing out a harebrained answer to them.