It's ambiguous. I'm not convinced that the writer knows what s/he means. There are various interpretations - at least three:
- Yours, the illogical one.
- People who were actually looking for work dropped out of the statistics. I don't know how the unemployment statistics are recorded in the USA, but in the UK 'unemployed' isn't the same as 'not having (paid) employment'. In order to count as 'registered unemployed' you have to be claiming Unemployment Benefit. And many people (myself included at one stage) find the process of claiming too dispiriting to bother with.
- The 'rate' referred to in the final sentence is the rate of inflation. The underpinning of this interpretation started in the first sentence in the words 'the declining dollar', and the ambiguous 'it' in the second sentence seals the potential confusion!
Student or Learner