Record Average of 93,671,000 Americans Not in Labor Force in 2015

Average participation rate lowest since 1977

Job fair

Job fair / AP


A record average of 93,671,000 Americans 16 or older did not participate in the nation’s labor force in calendar year 2015, and the average labor force participation rate was 62.7 percent, a 38-year low, according to data released Friday from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The 93,671,000 Americans not in the labor force in 2015 are those individuals who did not have a job and did not actively seek one. There were 1,646,000 more individuals not in the labor force in 2015 than there was in the year prior.

The participation rate, the percent of the population who participated in the labor force by either having a job or actively seeking one, averaged at 62.7 percent in 2015 which has not been this low since 1977—a span of 38 years.

The average unemployment rate in 2015 was 5.3 percent which declined from 2014’s average of 6.2 percent. This measure does not account for those individuals who have dropped out of the labor force. The unemployment rate simply measures the percent of those who did not have a job, but actively sought one over the month.

The “real” unemployment rate average for 2015, or the U-6 measure, was 10.4 percent, which dropped from the 12 percent it was in 2014. Some democrats such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen have said that this measure is more representative of the labor market because it accounts for discouraged workers and those working part time instead of full time for economic reasons.

Ali Meyer

Ali Meyer   Email Ali | Full Bio | RSS
Ali Meyer is a staff writer with the Washington Free Beacon covering economic issues that expose government waste, fraud, and abuse. Prior to the Free Beacon, she was a multimedia reporter with where her work appeared on outlets such as Drudge Report and Fox News. She also interned with the Heritage Foundation and Pacific Research Institute. Her Twitter handle is @DJAliMeyer, and her email address is

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