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The unqualified positive assessments of last Friday’s drop in the reported unemployment rate are misplaced. The 40 basis point decline in the consistently unreliable measure of the labor market, which fell from 9.0 percent to 8.6 percent, reflects that 315,000 Americans exited the labor force in November and that the labor force participation rate fell to 64.0 percent. On balance, this means that fewer Americans were looking for work in November, with exits from the job market concentrated amongst relatively low-skill workers for whom opportunities remain rather scarce.

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