Obama Administration

Obama Economy Labor Force Participation Rate Hits Low Not Seen Since 1977


Job Needed
Flynt: Dreamstime

The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines the labor force as the percent of the civilian noninstitutional population that is working or is seeking employment. During the 1950s and 1960s, the percent of Americans in the job market held steady at about 60 percent and then began rising in the 1970s as more women entered the paid job market. According to the BLS, the labor force participation rate reached its high of 67.3 percent in the year 2000. Remember this is the percent of Americans who are in the job market, employed or not.

The market-oriented liberal think-tank, the Employment Policies InstituteEmployment Policy Institute has just released an analysis reporting that the labor force participation rate has dropped to 62.8 percent of the civilian population. That rate was last seen thirty-six years ago in 1977. Citing the latest BLS data, the EPI calculated that the U.S. economy added about 204,000 jobs last month. Now the bad news. The EPI further noted:

While 204,000 new jobs is a better number than we have seen recently, the month-to-month signal is potentially murky. At a time like this it's useful to step back and take stock of the larger picture. The larger picture, however, is grim. We need 8.0 million jobs to get back to the pre-recession unemployment rate, and at the average rate of growth of the last 12 months, that won't happen for another five years. The unemployment rate has improved substantially from its peak exactly four years ago of 10% in October 2009. However, most of that improvement was not for good reasons, it was due to the growth in the number of "missing workers"—people who have dropped out of, or never entered, the labor market because jobs opportunities are so weak. There are currently roughly 6.1 million missing workers, and if these workers were in the labor force looking for work, the unemployment rate would be 10.8 percent instead of 7.3 percent.

In other words, the reason that U.S. unemployment rate declined once the financial crisis abated is largely because so many Americans have given up seeking a job. This suggests that the Obama administration's policy of trying to regulate our way to prosperity by piling on more federal rules like minimum wage hikes, new health insurance mandates, expanding Sarbanes-Oxley requirements, setting limits of carbon dioxide emissions, ad infinitum, has failed. Who knew

*Policies v. Policy—search results can be so confusing. 

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  1. Oh yeah? Well NPR said these last month’s numbers don’t count because the sampling took place during the government shutdown (which was caused by obstructionist Republicans).

  2. Alternate headline: US LEISURE TIME ON THE RISE!

    1. Americans achieving better work life balance!!

      1. Actually, I am enjoying my 29 or under hours/workweek lifestyle. Then again, this job is more retirement hobby than employment to me.

  3. That job? You didn’t like that job!

    1. That job was substandard.

  4. Is this why I get so few callbacks from my resumes?

    At least I’m employed during the interim – as in someone’s paying me to show up at the office. I think it’s other state workers since our funding comes from the amount taken out of their paychecks. That makes me at least two steps removed from the taxes, and some of those were federally funded, so… Thanks everybody for those fractions of a cent that pay my salary! I don’t think we have a unit of accounting small enough to let me pay back the dissatisfied customers their share.

    1. You get callbacks? I don’t even get that.

      1. UNIX and SAN administrator of over 5 years, plus time on a helpdesk for the customer service skills. There’s some interest in my salable skills.

        What are you trying to sell?

        1. Java developer with over 5 years experience in Eclipse environment using, Tomcat, SVN, MVC, JSP, and strong database skills in MySQL and Oracle.

          I’m a dime a dozen.

          1. When all goes well, all I do anymore is go to people’s houses, plug in a power, a telephone and an ethernet cable, show them how to use the device, drive home, put in the paperwork.

            If it weren’t for Belkin routers and traffic, I’d almost never have a hard day.

          2. Wow I maybe it is a good thing I stayed in QA for so long.

            16 years in Software QA with extensive test automation and performance testing background.

            I don’t get callbacks, I get recruiters chasing me and have been offered something like 8 different jobs in the last 2 years (most I turned down for various reasons)

        2. With a BS in CS.

          1. I have a BS BS in IT. I don’t focus too much attention on that part, people might notice. I prefer to have the conversation on the work experience side.

  5. Eh, it’s just welfare for the middle class. If you removed barriers to entry, there would be less need for mid-level professionals. If you increase barriers to entry then you need more mid-level professionals in the public and private sector to deal with the paperwork burdens.

    The very last thing you want is the employed that vote to become the unemployed that vote.

  6. So what are our trolls going to say about this?
    a) Every month, about 200,000 jobs are added. 200,000! That’s a lot of jobs!
    b) Even though we have the most brilliant President in history, and he’s had 5 years to do something, even he can’t dig us out of the hole Bush dug. It’s THAT deep.
    c) Businesses are not hiring because they hate Obama and want to see him fail.
    d) They will skip this thread and post something about being impregnated by a bus on one of the Obamacare threads.

    1. Wasn’t d) a fishcycle?

    2. d) They will skip this thread and post something about being impregnated by a bus on one of the Obamacare threads.

      So that’s how hybrids are made!


      1. I wondered why most city busses these days were hybrids. The old style got bred out of the omnibus population.

      2. The origin of that is here, in case anybody is bewildered by all of these references.

        1. I knew the origin, but still had to read it because of how awesome it was.

  7. Shrieeking Idiot sayz teh econumy is strong!

  8. We need 8.0 million jobs to get back to the pre-recession unemployment rate, and at the average rate of growth of the last 12 months, that won’t happen for another five years

    Lost decade! Yay!!!! It’s like we’re turning Japanese.

    1. I really think so

  9. Just as long as none of those “unemployed” people are working on the sly, and STEALING FROM SOCIETY.

    Fucking wreckers.

  10. Call me an optimist, but I’m seeing this news as not all bad. I know more people than ever who are now freelancers out of necessity or have started random little side businesses, are willing to barter their goods or services, have started moving toward a more self-sustaining lifestyle, etc. These same people often become very creative in finding ways to reduce their tax burden and skirt around prosperity sapping regulations. Oddly though, it often takes many of these same people much longer to let go of their long-held delusions that the government should provide everything to everyone and protect them from the evil capitalists and corporations.

  11. I accompanied one of our corporate recruiters to a Veteran’s job fair last week. Fucking depressing. Companies have just stopped hiring and training young people.

    1. It’s become all about short term gains since the 80’s.

    2. Have you actually met, sat down, and talked to a typical young person in this country today? If so, it shouldn’t be too hard to understand why.

      1. Yes I have. Some have real promise in business, some should be learning how to be a plumbers.

        I also remember being an idiot in my early 20’s, but I got the chance to learn and mature because the economy was growing in the 80’s.

  12. It looks like the BLS statistics include everyone over 16, so a possible cause of the lower participation is the aging of our population — people are living longer in retirement now.

    This is not in any way to defend government intrusion into business, but I am curious about the numbers.

    1. s: Let’s not forget the 8 million plus now on permanent disability. More disabled workers in a time when the work environment has never been safer.

    2. I was wondering about that, too. The Baby Boomers are starting to retire now. That would most likely lower the Labour Participation rate even if the economy were doing well.

    3. There must be an upper limit cap. It would be a meaningless figure without it.

      However, I also clicked on the graph, and the amount of decline since 2008 has been huge. It cannot be accounted for with an older population, I wouldn’t think.

  13. In September 2013, 76.3% of Americans between their 25th and 55th birthdays were gainfully employed, with part time workers counted as fractional jobs. 76.3% was the same level as the spring of 2009 and the summer of 1984. This series has been lower, 2009-13, than at any time in 1985-2008. I conclude that millions of American households who had counted on two salaries are making do with one. This is possible if one is not paying off a mortgage on a house purchased before 2008.

    1. Women only:

      Men only:

  14. As I consider a comment I feel out of place.

    Rather than laugh at and mock Obama and lament the economic ignorance, intellectual impotence, and administrative incompetence of Our Idiot President, I find myself thinking about you libertarian types and noting that you probably voted for this douchebag not once, but twice, when he was still pretending to be a Christian who opposed “gay marriage” as a public policy, and wished to elevate himself to deport illegal aliens and jail marijuana users.

    And despite his economic retardation and/or latent socialism, you all would likely cheer him as an effective leader if he legalized crack. Clearly, embracing my inner Libertarian is going to involve some pain.

  15. The really sad part is that in order to restore the economy they are already beggining to do the same stupid things that got us into this mess. Like pushing banks to make risky loans to people who can’t afford them so that the housing industry will recover.

  16. He should just order everyone to get a job. Duh.

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