94,391,000 Americans Not Participating in the Labor Force

Number of workers forced into part time work rises

A veteran talks with an outreach representative about employment opportunities at a job fair / AP
September 2, 2016

There were 94,391,000 Americans not participating in the labor force in August, an increase of 58,000 people from the previous month, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday.

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, remained steady at 62.8 percent in August. According to the bureau, this level of participation matches the level seen in 1978.

The unemployment rate for all Americans remained steady at 4.9 percent from July to August. This measure does not account for those individuals who have dropped out of the labor force and 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 9.7 percent, which remained steady from the previous month. Democrats such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen have said this measure accounts for discouraged workers and those working part time instead of full time for economic reasons and is more representative of the labor market.

There were 6,053,000 Americans working part-time in August who would rather have a full-time job but cited economic reasons for not having such employment. This number increased by 113,000 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."

"To get a true indication of the economy you have to dig past the topline number of today's jobs report to see the historically low labor force participation rate—including the low labor force participation of prime age workers," said Ed Rensi, former CEO of McDonald's and Famous Dave's. "When you do that you see that the economy is still not providing opportunity for everyone, something that policymakers must address by reducing the tax and regulatory burdens on small businesses."

"The Obama economy is failing to restore prosperity for millions of Americans still out of the labor force, but Hillary Clinton wants more of the same," said Reince Priebus, Republican National Committee chairman. "Another month of mediocre job growth on top of two straight quarters of weak GDP growth make this the weakest recovery since the Great Depression."

Published under: Unemployment