From 1999 through 2008, an average of 66.4 percent of the nation's civilian population was in the civilian labor force. In 2008, the year that Obama was elected, 66 percent of the civilian population was either working or looking for work.
In September 2012, only 63.6 percent of the civilian labor force was working or looking for work.
In 2008, the civilian, non-institutional population averaged 233.4 million people, of whom 154.3 million were working. This equates to the 66 percent noted above.
In September 2012, 243.7 million people were in the civilian, non-institutional population, 155 million of whom were working.
Since 2008, the pool of potential workers has grown 4.3 percent, while the labor force has grown 0.5 percent.
If the percentage of people participating in the labor force were the same today as it was in 2008 (66 percent), and if the employment figures had remained the same, the unemployment rate would be 11.1 percent.
That rate conveys a more accurate picture of who really needs a job. It's not just those people who have looked for work in the past four weeks, but also those millions of people, an estimated 5.8 million people based on historical rates, who are so discouraged by a lack of opportunity that they have just given up.
While the Obama campaign might be touting better statistics, what we really need is not better statistics. What we need is more economic activity and more job opportunities, so that those who have not looked in the past four weeks would be able to get a job, to be productive and help our economy grow.