Lots of people are surely looking at today's jobs headlines somewhat puzzled, asking one significant question: How can it be that hiring was much worse than expected in March and the unemployment rate still fell — to 7.6 percent?
The answer isn't a happy one. There are a couple of ways the unemployment rate can fall.
But the nation's jobless rate still edged down to 7.6 percent from 7.7 percent. That dip wasn't for a good reason, though: Nearly half a million fewer people were participating in the labor force. That smaller pool meant the jobless rate could tick down even as job growth was weak.
As of March, 11.7 million people were unemployed. But that number doesn't include people who were working part time because they couldn't find a full-time job. It also doesn't include people who wanted a job but haven't looked for work in the past four weeks.