Job Creation: Labor Participation Rate Remains at 36-Year Low

The last time it was this low was under Carter in February and March of ’78. But headlines attempt to tell a different story. The Associated Press ran a piece last month entitled “American Economy Bounces Back from Brutal Winter.” In it, they touted the official unemployment numbers, which have magically fallen, despite there being fewer people in the labor force.

But even they had to admit that it was just a silly numbers game, and that people shouldn’t be so naïve as to get their hopes up about the economy. Here were the article’s third and fourth paragraphs:

But the rate fell that far because many fewer people began looking for work in April, thereby reducing the number of unemployed. The proportion of Americans who either have a job or are looking for one dropped to a three-decade low.

And the monthly employment report the government released Friday showed that worker pay has yet to pick up — evidence that the job market has not fully recovered.

CNS News broke down the latest numbers:

In May, 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 247,622,000. Of those, 155,613,000 participated in the labor force by either holding a job or actively seeking one.

The 155,613,000 who participated in the labor force equaled only 62.8 percent of the 247,622,000 civilian noninstitutional population, matching (along with the 62.8 percent rate in May) the lowest labor force participation rate in 36 years.


When President Barack Obama took office in January 2009, the labor force participation rate was 65.7 percent. By the beginning of 2013, the start of Obama’s second term, it had dropped to 63.6 percent. Since January 2014, when the participation rate was 63.0,it has continued to decline, hitting a 36-year low of 62.8 percent in May.

This is why the official unemployment rate published by the BLS is really quite meaningless. It doesn’t take into account these people who are unemployed and no longer looking for work. There are likely millions of working-aged Americans in that very category. The unemployment rate only considers those who don’t have a job but are looking for work.

The BLS isn’t so much cooking the books as it is just publishing the numbers that are smallest. It gives the impression that the economy isn’t really all that bad after all, and we can all thank Obama for his tremendous effort to create jobs.

But it’s all a façade. People are dropping out of the work force, because businesses are crumbling under the burdensome taxes, regulations and mandates. The only way to get the economy going again is for the government to get out of the way.