The job market is still awful, in 3 graphs

Unemployment Rate

/Quoctrung Bui / NPR

When the big jobs report comes out Friday morning, we'll hear a lot about what happened in November in the job market.

But whatever happened last month, it won't change this fact: The job market is still terrible.

The official unemployment rate — which includes only people who are out of work and actively looking for a job — is still much, much higher than it was before the recession. The same is true for broader unemployment, which also includes people who are working part time but want to be working full time, as well as those who want a job but have given up looking in the past year.

If you're unemployed, there's a good chance you'll be unemployed for a long time: The average duration of unemployment exploded during the recession and hasn't improved much since.

Perhaps most alarmingly, lots of people are giving up on work altogether. The percentage of adults who are working or looking for work — known as the participation rate — has been falling steadily for years now.

The jobs report may show that some or all of these figures are improving. But even if the job market is slowly getting better, the big picture will still be bleak.

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