The discussion has always been mixed with others, so lets make this thread just about the employment situation in the US. A large part of the recent debates have focused on the viability of unemployment statistics and whether or not they accurately reflect the employment situation in the US. I will concede, right from the start, that unemployment stats alone do not tell the whole story. But be that as it may, I think the other pertinent data supports the position that the employment situation is both "good" (relative to the past) and improving. To start, some stats: -The official unemployment rate for the US in July was 5.0% (SOURCE) -Jobless claims are down since last year (same source) -Job creation is up since last year (same source) -Adjusted for inflation, the incomes for the lower three fifths of the population have decreased slightly and the upper two fifths have increased slightly (none by more than .1% between 2002 and 2003 (2004 numbers are not out). (SOURCE) -All fifths (and the top 1%) are below where they were in 1999, inflation adjusted. Now, something claimed by others (and I'll let them substantiate it) is that the number of people in the workforce, but not employed is rising. The data, imo, is contrived: ie, not real. Others have admitted the difficulty in finding that stat, but I have speculated some reasons why the workforce would not rise as fast as the population. So, some new data for that speculation: -The workforce participation rate of people aged 65 and older has been declining relatively steadily for the past 120 years. (SOURCE) This is a key stat that I'd conjectured about before, but have since found: Because, as time passes, less people work as the get older, the labor force will not grow as fast as the population. Also, something that has not yet had much of an effect, and we haven't discussed much, the baby boom generation is approaching retirement. Whatever the situation today, the coming decade will see labor foce growth drop, possibly creating a labor shortage.