Labor Force

95,745,000: Record Number Not in Labor Force as Boomers Retire

The number of employed Americans has broken eight records since President Trump took office, but on the not-so-sunny side, the number of Americans not in the labor force also keeps increasing, breaking six records since Trump took office in January 2017. Last month, a record 95,745,000 Americans were counted as “not in the labor force,” meaning they are not employed and are not seeking a job, according to the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statics. “This category includes retired persons, students, those taking care of children or other family members, and others who are neither working nor seeking work,” BLS said. With record numbers of people not in the labor force, the labor force participation rate has remained stubbornly low in recent years. In April, only 62.8 percent of the non-institutionalized, civilian population over the age of 16 was either working or actively looking for work. This compares with an all-time high of 67.3 percent in the first four months of 2000. In a March 2018 report, the Congressional Budget Office noted that a lower labor force participation rate is associated with lower gross domestic product and lower tax revenues. It is also associated with larger federal outlays, because people who are not in the labor force are more likely to enroll in federal benefit programs, including Social Security. This past January, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the labor force participation rate will continue to decline over the next 30 years from the current 62.8 percent to 61.0 percent in 2027 and to 59.2 percent in 2047. According to that report, “The continued retirement of the baby-boom generation is the most important factor driving down the overall participation rate.” The first Baby Boomers — people born between 1946 and 1964 — turned 65 in 2011.

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94,333,000 Americans Out of the Labor Force in July

The number of Americans not in the labor force declined but still topped 94 million last month, according to data released Friday by the Labor Department. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 94,333,000 Americans were neither employed nor had made an effort to find work in July — down 184,000 compared to the month prior. The labor force participation rate also increased slightly, hitting 62.8 percent in July. While tens of millions of Americans were out of the workforce — due to discouragement, schooling, retirement or otherwise — and the participation rate remained at levels not seen since the 1970s the BLS reported a relatively decent level of job growth. According to the government data, last month the economy added 255,000 jobs and the unemployment rate remained at 4.9 percent. The labor force also grew by 407,000 people, reaching 159,287,000. Of those participating in the labor force, 151,517,000 were employed and 7,770 were unemployed. Broken down by gender, the unemployment rate and participation rate for working-age men was 5.0 percent and 69.2 percent, respectively. Among working-age women the unemployment rate was 4.7 and participation rate was 56.8 percent. Among whites last month, the unemployment rate was 4.3 percent and the participation rate was 62.9 percent. Black unemployment was 8.4 percent with a participation rate of 61.2 percent. Asian unemployment was 3.8 percent and the participation was 63.4 percent and Hispanic unemployed was 5.4 percent with a 65.8 percent participation rate.