...The employment-to-population ratio displays a classic V-shape recession and recovery pattern in the 1970s and 1980s. In the recession and recovery of the early 1990s, however, the employment-to-population ratio instead displays a U shape, only returning to its pre-recession level three years after the peak in the unemployment rate. In the recession and recovery of the early 2000s, neither the participation rate nor the employment-to-population ratio returns to its previous level, so we see an incomplete U-shape pattern.
In the most recent cycle, the employment-to-population ratio traces out an L shape, but the unemployment rate falls because the participation rate declines substantially (a much more gradual decline was expected by many given the aging of the baby boomers); in other words, a larger share of the population is out of the labor force rather than participating and being unemployed.
I took the liberty of annotating the chart to illustrate a couple of salient details:
I added two vertical lines. The first line indicates the election of Barack Obama in November of 2008, when he and Bush 43 began collaborating on economic policies.
For instance, the initial bailout of GM and Chrysler (with TARP money for housing, mind you) was justified by both men in the name of preventing a complete collapse of the auto supply chain.
The second line, slightly to the right, represents the passage of the "Stimulus package".
It would appear that the policies of Obama and the 111th Congress made things worse, at least as compared to other major recessions.
And, based upon the labor-force participation rate, things haven't gotten any better, no matter how many times legacy media tries to shriek WE'RE IN A RECOVERY.
* The ludicrous hack Joe Weisenthal hardest hit.