The fall in unemployment was real ... but unspectacular. That's the conclusion economists Regis Barnichon and Christopher Nekarda reached about the surprising September decline in joblessness. There was no conspiracy. Unless more people finding work and fewer people losing work is a conspiracy.
Their conclusion: Unemployment "should" be at 7.8 percent, and it should be there for quite awhile.
Which brings us to the caveat. Okun's Law-style models aren't as good at seeing what is there, but they are better at seeing what will be there -- they can project policy changes. The Barnichon-Nekarda model doesn't have much to say about what QE3 or the fiscal cliff will mean for jobs, at least not until we get there.