160,213,000: Number of Americans in Labor Force Hits Record High

Unemployment rate of 4.4 percent hits lowest level seen in near decade

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• May 5, 2017 9:25 am


The number of Americans either working or looking for work in the past month hit a record high of 160,213,000, according to numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There were 12,000 more Americans who joined the labor force in April, while 162,000 left. The number of Americans not participating in the labor force increased from 94,213,000 in March to 94,375,000 in April. The bureau counts those not in the labor force as people who do not have a job and did not actively seek one in the past four weeks.

The labor force participation rate, which is the percentage of the population that has a job or actively looked for one in the past month, declined slightly from 63 percent in March to 62.9 percent in April.

In addition to more individuals joining the labor force this month, the number of unemployed individuals declined by 146,000 Americans, leading to a decline in the unemployment rate.

The unemployment rate for all Americans declined from 4.5 percent in March to 4.4 percent in April. The unemployment rate has not been this low since May of 2007, nearly a decade ago. This measure, however, does not account for those individuals who have dropped out of the labor force—it simply measures the percent of those who did not have a job but actively sought one over the month.

The "real" unemployment rate, otherwise known as the U-6 measure, was 8.9 percent in March, which dropped to 8.6 percent in April.

There were 5,272,000 Americans working part-time in April who would rather have a full-time job but cited economic reasons for not having such employment. This number declined by 281,000 over the month.

According to the bureau, involuntary part-time workers are "persons who indicated that they would like to work full time but were working part time (1 to 34 hours) because of an economic reason, such as their hours were cut back or they were unable to find full-time jobs."

Overall, total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 211,000 in April.

"The small business community is creating jobs again," said NFIB president and CEO Juanita Duggan. "They are energized by the prospect of better federal policies on taxes, health care, and regulations."

"As Congress and the White House negotiate health care and tax reform in the coming weeks, they must remember that both start with small business," said Duggan. "Our members will be paying close attention, and our data will reflect the actions of those in Washington."

"More small business owners were able to increase employment in April, which is a positive sign for the U.S. economy," said NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg. "However, they still face an extremely tight labor market and are struggling to find qualified workers to fill open positions."

Published under: Unemployment