• Fewer Americans Seeking Work Than Any Time In Past 28 Years

    This spring saw a smaller proportion of American adults employed or seeking work than at any time since 1977, according to a newly-released White House jobs report. Despite the 2009 recession being long over, millions of Americans are leaving the labor force and staying out, as though it never ended.

    The jobs report, released Thursday by the Department of Labor, shows the economy added an estimated 223,000 jobs in June, though this gain was partially offset by downward revisions for April and May, with 60,000 jobs shaved off of earlier estimates.

    These added jobs helped to lower the unemployment rate to 5.3 percent, the lowest point of the Obama presidency.

    But the main reason for the drop isn’t people going back to work, but rather people leaving the workforce entirely (the unemployment rate only counts those actively seeking a job). The country’s labor force participation rate (LFPR), which is the percentage of those over 16 currently working or seeking work, fell 0.3 points last month to 62.6 percent, where it hasn’t been since October 1977, a time when women were still entering the workforce in large numbers.

    LFPR peaked at 67.3 percent in 2000, stagnated in the early 2000s, and has been in virtual freefall ever since the 2008 financial crisis. The continued departure suggests that despite the end of the Great Recession, a large number of potential workers are being left behind, unable to find work.

    Another grim aspect of the jobs report is a total lack of any wage growth, which economists had been hoping for as a sign of a strengthening recovery. Instead, average hourly earnings stayed put at $24.95, for a year-over-year increase of just 2 percent, barely beating inflation.

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