A sharp improvement in the unemployment rate

Updated
The jobs news this morning was very encouraging – not just relative to where we were, but in actual terms. The nation is on track for its best year for job creation since the Clinton era and June broke the record for the most consecutive months of private-sector gains.
 
But as we’ve discussed before, as a matter of political rhetoric and public awareness, these aren’t the numbers most Americans pay attention to. Rather, what gets attention is the overall U.S. unemployment – people want to know whether it’s going up or down; how long it’s been above one plateau or another; etc.
 
Indeed, in the 2012 presidential campaign, Republicans were heavily invested in the talking about the jobless rate remaining about 8%, which they said mattered more than the fact than the economy was adding jobs. (When the rate finally dipped below 8% before Election Day, President Obama’s critics naturally turned to wild-eyed conspiracy theories.)
 
With this in mind, it’s worth noting that the unemployment rate has now dropped to 6.1%, its lowest point since September 2008, nearly six years ago. The rate has dropped more than a full point since last fall, and is down nearly four full points since its Great Recession high of 10%.

Sometimes the unemployment rate will go up for encouraging reasons – people re-enter the job market once it improves, increasing the number of folks looking for work, which may look statistically like bad news even though it’s good news. Conversely, sometimes the jobless rate will drop for discouraging reasons – people give up on a job market and no longer count towards the overall figure.

That said, today’s good news is, well, actual good news. The unemployment rate dropped because job creation was strong, even as the labor force grew. This is, in other words, how people rooting for the economy want to see the jobless rate drop.
 
Among politicians, we too often see a lazy game – pick the metric that tells you what you want to hear. When the total number of jobs created soars but the unemployment rate inches higher, Republicans ignore the former and shout about the latter. When job creation slows but the jobless rate falls, Democrats do the opposite. Consistency matters.
 
But with the latest data, there’s no point in cherry picking because all of the news is good.
 

Rachel Maddow Show Charts, Unemployment and Unemployment Rate

A sharp improvement in the unemployment rate

Updated