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Record High: Americans Not in Labor Force Exceed 94 Million For First Time

Participation rate remains at 38-year low

AP
• September 4, 2015 12:25 pm

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A record 94,031,000 Americans 16 or older did not participate in the nation’s labor force in August, 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 94,031,000 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 261,000 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 has not been this low since October 1977, when it was 62.4 percent—a span of 38 years.

The unemployment rate declined from 5.3 percent in July to 5.1 percent in August. This measure does not account for those individuals who have dropped out of the labor force. The unemployment rate measures the percentage of those who did not have a job but actively sought one over the month. The number of unemployed individuals dropped by 237,000 over the month.

For women, the employment situation is even more acute. A record 56,253,000 women 16 or older did not participate in the nation’s labor force in August, according to the BLS data. This measure increased by 44,000 individuals over the month.

When President Obama took office in January 2009, there were 49,226,000 women not in the labor force. This means that since that time, 7,027,000 women have dropped out of the labor force.

The female participation rate remained unchanged from July to August at 56.7 percent. The unemployment rate for women declined in August for to 5.1 percent from 5.3 percent in July.

While the official unemployment rate improved for both sexes over the month, that measure does not account for the significant number of Americans who have stopped looking for work.

Published under: Unemployment