That's definitely part of it with something like 7 million having dropped out of the labor force over the past 3 years. Of course, as time goes on those who have the luxury to drop out of the labor force will become fewer and fewer and if UE claims mount to an additional 100K per month as the trend of the past 2 weeks suggests the UE rate should go up.
There is an unadjusted data point the government reports on millions of people who work full time. That number has been generally moving higher for over 2 years, albeit slowly and well below the peak. However, if claims numbers are near 390,000 for any extended period, that number of people who work full time would be almost guaranteed to fall. And if the trend of revisions higher continues, we may well see this week's number revised to close to 400,000 which would be a very bad number off this low of an employment base. My guess would be that 380,000 claims today would do the same damage as 400,000 claims 4 years ago.
Nice graph showing 2008 data...http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/04/1 ... at-386-000