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We May Be Closer to Full Employment Than It Seemed. That’s Bad News.


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The May job numbers raise a depressing possibility: that this is as good as it will get for the United States labor market.

At first glance, the new numbers seem like a bit of a mystery. The unemployment rate fell to a 16-year low, yet job creation slowed and the number of people who are neither working nor looking for work rose. But the data aren’t really inconsistent. Rather, they point to a job market that is pretty close to full employment — where workers who want a job can find one fairly easily, but low unemployment isn’t pulling workers into the labor force en masse.


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