As I mentioned before (here and here) the real unemployment rate is actually much higher than the official rate because the labor force participation rate is falling off a cliff and is at a 27 year low:
This manipulation of an extremely important statistic (after all unemployment = 1- (# employed/labor force)) has allowed Obama and his cronies to argue that unemployment has eased when in fact it has reached record levels. The official story is that unemployment peaked in October of 2009 at 10.1% and is now at 9.1%. But if you look at the data underlying this calculation you'll see we've only added a total of 903,000 jobs (a paltry 38,000 per month) since then while at the same time our working age population has increased by 3 million. You wouldn't expect unemployment to fall by a whole percent with something like that happening.
Anyway, below is my updated chart comparing our official unemployment rate (the red line) with the unemployment rate if the labor participation rate had been held steady since November 2008 (the blue line):
As you can see, by my calculations our real unemployment rate is at a record post-depression high of 11.9%, much higher than the official rate of 9.1%. Hell, even if you held just this months's labor participation rate steady with last month, and left the rest alone, you would have had unemployment rise to 9.3% instead of fall to 9.1% (I guess Obama did have a press conference on jobs scheduled for today, so have to give the boss a break). One official statistic that doesn't seem to be manipulated is the employment to population ratio. That chart isn't pretty, as that ratio is at a 28 year low: