Labor Participation Rate Lowest Since 1977

Predictably, the BLS highlights the unemployment figure, which has apparently dropped to 5.3%, compared to May’s 5.5%. What they don’t usually mention is the drop in the labor force. Last month, the labor force participation rate was down to 62.6%, the lowest we’ve seen since 1977. CNS News reported:

A record 93,626,000 Americans 16 or older did not participate in the nation’s labor force in June, as the labor force participation rate dropped to 62.6 percent, a 38-year low, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In June, according to BLS, the nation’s civilian noninstitutional population, consisting of all people 16 or older who were not in the military or an institution, hit 250,663,000. Of those, 157,037,000 participated in the labor force by either holding a job or actively seeking one.

The 157,037,000 who participated in the labor force equaled only 62.6 percent of the 250,663,000 civilian noninstitutional population, the lowest labor force participation rate seen in 38 years. It hasn’t been this low since October 1977 when the participation rate was 62.4 percent. 

Another 93,626,000 did not participate in the labor force. These Americans did not have a job and were not actively trying to find one.

Of the 157,037,000 who did participate in the labor force, 148,739,000 had a job, and 8,299,000 did not have a job were actively seeking one—making them the nation’s unemployed.

The 8,299,000 job seekers were 5.3 percent of the 157,037,000 actively participating in the labor force during the month. Thus, the unemployment rate was 5.3 percent which dropped from the 5.5 percent unemployment seen in May.

The number of employed Americans dropped from 148,795,000 in May to 148,739,000 in June, a decline of 56,000. The number of unemployed Americans also dropped over the month from 8,674,000 in May to 8,299,000 in June, a decline of 375,000.

It’s the same game they play every month. The one number they focus on is the “unemployment” figure, which in fact doesn’t take into account all those who are unemployed. While those who have fallen out of the labor force include retirees who are done working, it also includes those who have given up looking for work.

The numbers also don’t consider those who are “underemployed”; that is, they previously had a full-time job, but have since been laid off and have had to settle with one or two part-time jobs that are collectively yielding smaller incomes than what they had been used to under previous employment.

These issues are important when analyzing the health of the economy. The BLS and media are deliberately leaving out this data that would cast a much more negative (and realistic) light on our current economy.