Stories

Two faces of the American labor market

Applicants at a job fair. (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Happy jobs day! The Labor Department will announce its estimate for the number of jobs created in February at 8:30, and economists are expecting 200,000 new jobs and for the unemployment rate to fall to 4.7%. (Update: The U.S. economy added 235,000 jobs and the unemployment rate did fall to 4.7%.)

Donald Trump thinks these bullish stats are fake news. In his address to Congress, the president highlighted the growing number of Americans over the age of 16 who are no longer in the labor force, meaning they don't have a job, but also haven't looked for one in a month or more.

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Christopher Matthews' calculations; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

What bears say: The president, and some economists, have argued that the falling unemployment rate was not the result of an improving economy, but folks giving up looking for work altogether. Indeed, if the labor force participation rate of 2008 were in effect today, the unemployment rate would be 9.6% rather than 4.8%

What bulls say : They've dismissed the above argument, and are expecting higher wages and higher inflation because the pool of actually available workers is quite small. As Republicans take responsibility for the labor market, expect them to increasingly emphasize this view rather than the former.