Non-participants in Labor Force Hit All-Time High

Wednesday, 23 Oct 2013 08:59 PM

By Dan Weil

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The number of non-participants in the U.S. labor force rose to a record of 90.609 million in September, according to the jobs data released by the government Tuesday.

That figure represents an increase from 90.473 million in August and 89.957 million in July, CNSNews.com reports.

The non-participant total stood at 80.507 million when President Barack Obama took office in January 2009.

Editor’s Note: 75% of Seniors Make This $152,000 Social Security Mistake (See Easy Fix)

Non-participants in the labor force are Americans 16 years or older who are unemployed and haven’t looked for a job in the last four weeks. The increase may indicate that those without a job are giving up on finding one.

Retiring baby boomers are pushing the non-participant number up, according to CNS.

In addition, there’s the falling female participation rate in the labor force, CNS says. The female labor force participation rate dropped to 57.1 percent in September from 59.4 percent in January 2009.

The labor force participation rate, which includes those who have a job or have actively sought one in the last four weeks, registered 63.2 percent in September, matching the August figure, a 35-year low.

Meanwhile, the employment rate stood at 58.6 percent in September, unchanged from August. The figure totaled 60.6 percent in January 2009.

Wall Street Journal editors aren’t impressed by the data. “Once again the number that stands out is the 136,000 Americans in September . . . who joined those ‘not in the labor force,’" they write in an editorial.

“With total employment at 144.3 million, for every three Americans over the age of 16 earning a paycheck there are two who aren't even looking for a job. That's an ugly portent for American prosperity.”

In addition to demographics, “easy access to expanded government welfare benefits that substitute for work—unemployment insurance, disability, food stamps and soon Obamacare—also contribute to the decline” in workforce participation, the editorial says.

Some economists blame weak government hiring. But government jobs rose 54,000 for August and September combined, all at the state and local levels, according to the editorial.

So what’s the solution to the sluggish labor market? Faster economic growth, the editorial says. “The Obama Administration could do worse than listen to those who do most of the hiring in America,” Journal editors write.

“According to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), two big concerns are regulation and Obamacare.”

The editorial quotes from the latest NFIB survey to illustrate its point. "Consumers and small business owners are pessimistic," the NFIB says.

They aren't "expecting a 'crash' in the economy, just accepting the notion that growth is going to be sub-par and that their government is likely to continue in dysfunctional mode."

Editor’s Note: 75% of Seniors Make This $152,000 Social Security Mistake (See Easy Fix)

Related Stories:

Employers Add 148,000 Jobs as Unemployment Falls to 7.2 Percent

The Job Market Fed Faces: Healing but Still Ailing

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