There are fewer discouraged people in the U.S. This time last year there were 780,000 of them, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Now there are only 697,000. This is good news. The way the bureau defines them, “discouraged” people haven’t looked for work in the last month because they don’t think a job is available to match their age, experience, or training.

The discouraged are only one part of a larger group-what economists call the “marginally attached.” These are people who have worked in the last year but not looked for work in the last month. The discouraged total slightly less than half of this larger group. The rest haven’t looked for work for other reasons. Small numbers of them are sick, have family to take care of, or have returned to school.

Then there’s a category-also slightly less than half of the marginally attached: other. That number has risen since last year, from 684,000 to 728,000. Last week, Dave Altig, head of research for the Atlanta Federal Reserve, wrote a blog post pointing out two things: First, many people confuse discouraged workers with the rest of the marginally attached. Second, that may not matter. All the people who’ve had a job this year but haven’t looked recently tend to move back into the workforce at the same rate, whether they’re discouraged or not.

 

Read More At Business Week.