The Post reports that “the national unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent, and the nation added 146,000 jobs, not the mere 85,000 that forecasters had expected. . . .  The jobless rate dropped in large part because the labor force fell by 350,000, suggesting that people gave up looking for work. The number of people saying they had a job actually fell by 122,000. And the Labor Department revised downward its estimates of job creation in September and October by a combined 49,000 jobs.”

U.S. Treasury Building (Robert Miller/The Washington Post)

One way to get that unemployment rate down, I suppose, is to have more despondent workers stop trying to find jobs, but that would not fix the problem. The numbers are in one sense staggering. Jim Pethokoukis notes, ” If the US economy had been generating jobs at its usual pace since 2007 until the present, the US would have roughly 15 million more private sector jobs right now. . . . 4.2 million [is] the number of jobs needed to get back to the pre-recession peak. But that doesn’t catch us back up to trend. For that, we need around 13 million new private sector jobs.” We simply do not have an economy generating the sort of growth that has allowed Americans to prosper and has kept unemployment low.

Given this picture, about the worse thing we can do is raise taxes, cut discretionary spending and do nothing about long-term debt. In other words. President Obama offers us exactly the wrong medicine at the worst possible time.