To the casual observer, the most recent jobs numbers report may seem to indicate that the the economy is moving in the right direction. After all, the reported unemployment rate dropped a tenth of a percentage point to 7.6%. Compared to the recession level era of around 10% this seems like a remarkable improvement.
However, as with all aggregate measurements, the statistic is only as useful as the underlying components of its deriving equation are reflective of reality in the real world. Any aggregate number like the unemployment rate, GDP, or the consumer price index can only be useful gauges of the economy if you really understand what the final number that is spit out of an equation actually represents. In the case of the modern calculation of the unemployment rate, it is a reflection of the percentage of people who are currently actively looking for any type of employment and have been unable to find any work. The official government (U3) measure of unemployment does not take into consideration people who are currently only employed in part time work but require full time employment, or people who have simply stopped searching for a job because they had not had any success in the past. This second part is reflected in what is called the labor force participation rate, and in the most recent jobs report that statistic dropped to a 34 year low of only 63.3%.
Not taking this type of measurement into account allows for a jobs report where only half the number of new jobs that were expected were actually created to lead to a decrease in the overall unemployment rate. The decrease is driven fully by fewer and fewer people actually searching for jobs, not any level of measurable economic growth.