A lot of pundits this weekend were calling the latest news from the BLS as good news. Yes – the payroll survey showed a modest increase in employment but the household survey suggested a decline. But then the pundits also note the decline in the unemployment rate to 7.7%, which is lower than the 7.8% rate observed for January 2009. But is that really good news? No because the employment to population ratio fell last month with the decline in the unemployment rate coming from a larger drop in the labor force participation rate. It is true that the employment to population ratio has had a bumpy ride increasing from its low of 58.2% during the middle of 2011. While the unemployment rate has showed a more impressive decline, a fair amount of that decline over the past 18 months has been from a decline in the labor force participation rate. Furthermore, our graph shows just how far both series have declined on net since President Obama took office. To be fair, Obama inherited an economy in free fall and the economy has been recovering slowly since the Great Recession ended. But let’s stop cheerleading how great the labor market is and it is still awful. Which is all the more reason to pursue fiscal stimulus not rather than allowing this “fiscal cliff” to occur.