Record 93,770,000 Americans Not in Labor Force; Participation Rate Remains at 38-Year Low

Official unemployment static at 5.3 percent, but ‘real’ unemployment rate slightly over 10 percent

Veterans wait to register at a job fair / AP

A record 93,770,000 Americans 16 or older did not participate in the nation’s labor force in July, and the labor force participation rate remained at 62.6 percent, a 38-year low, according to data released Friday from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The 93,770,000 Americans not in the labor force are those individuals who did not have a job and did not actively seek one in the past four weeks. This measure increased by 144,000 individuals over the month.

The participation rate, the percent of the population who participated in the labor force by either having a job or actively seeking one in the past four weeks, remained unchanged from June to July at 62.6 percent. This metric hasn’t been this low since October 1977, when it was 62.4 percent—a span of 38 years.

The unemployment rate remained unchanged from June to July at 5.3 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 number of unemployed individuals dropped by 33,000 over the month.

The ‘real’ unemployment rate in July, or the U-6 measure, was 10.4 percent, which dropped slightly from the 10.5 percent it was in June. 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.