No change in labor force participation rate

The econmy gained 217,000 jobs in May, putting the official unemployment rate at 6.3%. The number of jobs is significant because it means that all the jobs lost during the recession - 9 million - have been recouped.

But James Pethokoukis sees no reason to celebrate:

But while the milestone is certainly worth noting, its importance pales next to the current state of the “jobs gap.” The US economy now has 113,000 more jobs than in December 2007, but the working-age population today is 16 million larger. When you factor in population growth, as the Economic Policy Institute has, you find the recession has left a remaining shortfall of nearly 7 million jobs or “missing workers.”

More context: the share of adult Americans with any sort of job — what I like to call the employment rate — was 58.9% last month vs. a prerecession peak of 63.4%. And as the Wall Street Journal notes, “Since the economy emerged from recession five years ago, wage gains have barely managed to keep ahead of inflation.”

The reason for slow age gains is that a large portion of the jobs created are "low wage" as this graph shows:

What's more, the labor force participation rate is stuck at 62.8% - the lowest in 36 years.


he percentage of American civilians 16 or older who do not have a job and are not actively seeking one remained at a 36-year high in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In December, April, and now May, the labor force participation rate has been 62.8 percent. That means that 37.2 percent were not participating in the labor force during those months.

Before December, the last time the labor force participation rate sunk as low as 62.8 percent was February 1978, when it was also 62.8 percent. At that time, Jimmy Carter was president.

In April, the number of those not in the labor force hit a record high of 92,018,000. In May, that number declined by 9,000 to 92,009,000. Yet, the participation rate remained the same from April to May at 62.8 percent.

The labor force, according to BLS, is that part of the civilian noninstitutional population that either has a job or has actively sought one in the last four weeks. The civilian noninstitutional population consists of people 16 or older, who are not on active duty in the military or in an institution such as a prison, nursing home, or mental hospital.

As many people who get a job, either lose one or stop looking. Now we have two things to celebrate - if you're an Obama supporter. The release of Bowe Bergdahl and the fact that there are only 7 million "missing workers."

A great week for the president, no?


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