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 February 26th 2016 - Written by: Michael O'Donnell

Labor Force Participation Rate Trends

A data series that economists follow closely is the labor force participation rate. The labor force participation rate, which is estimated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is the labor force aged at least 16 years (or all appropriately aged individuals classified as employed or unemployed) as a percent of the civilian noninstitutional population aged 16 or more. Prior to the Great Recession, the US participation rate peaked at 66.4%. In other words, 66.4% of all noninstitutionalized individuals were either employed or looking for work. However, post-recession, the rate has been on a downward trajectory and has now registers 62.7%. Analysts often argue that the declining participation rate is worrisome because it may signify weakness in the economy, and specifically in the job market. The argument goes: if the economy was in a better position, an increasing proportion of the population would be either working or looking for work…. View Full Post