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Congressional Budget Office

Apart from low unemployment, just how healthy is job market?

The U.S. unemployment rate — now just 5.1 percent — grabs a lot of the attention each month when the government issues its jobs data. Yet the rate doesn't come close to sketching a full picture of the job market. So just how healthy is the U.S. labor market? It's a hard question to answer in the aftermath of the Great Recession, which produced only a tepid recovery and left damage that still isn't fully repaired. It's why the Federal Reserve has struggled to determine whether to raise interest rates from record lows: If the job market is back to normal, a rate hike may be justified. If not, the Fed should arguably postpone any increase. The September jobs...