The new normal for the jobless rate is pretty lame

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September jobs report disappoints

If some economists are right, it's going to take a whole lot less progress in the jobs market to get the unemployment rate to keep falling.

Anyone following the steady decline in the jobless figure knows that the reasons for the move are complex and not just about more people finding work. Some of the reasons, in fact, are not particularly positive signs pointing to real economic progress.

Much of the decline has been about people simply leaving the workforce. A record 94.7 million Americans are considered out of the labor force, pushing the participation rate to its lowest level since October 1977.

If someone is not actively looking for employment, they simply aren't counted in the headline number. That's been a big reason the rate has declined from 10 percent in 2009 to 5.1 percent currently. It simply doesn't take as much job creation as it used to in order to get the unemployment rate to drop. The current employment to population ratio of 59.2 percent is about the same as it was when the unemployment rate was 9.6 percent.

If current trends hold, then, it will take even fewer jobs to lower the headline rate than has been the historical norm.