The U.S. labor force benefited from the creation of 288,000 jobs last month, the highest number since the start of 2012, and the National rate of unemployment concurrently fell from 6.7 percent in March to 6.3 percent.
Read far enough into those stories – and it will take you a while – and you’ll eventually encounter the lede: The number of people participating in the U.S. labor force in April shrank by a staggering 800,000. As you know, people who aren’t looking for work aren’t counted in the BLS’ calculation of the unemployment rate. Yet the number of people who have bowed out of the American labor force now stands at 92 million.
That’s nearly one-third of the population of the entire country – and roughly 38 percent of the 241 million residents over the age of 18.
With 38 percent of American adults not even trying to find work, what difference does a 6.3 percent unemployment rate make? The Obama Administration found the silver lining in the April numbers, noting that the actual rate of job creation is, in fact accelerating – which, so far as it goes, is certainly true – and that several economic sectors saw an uptick in hiring during April (also true).
But the Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers also reveal that hourly earnings did not increase – an indicator that much of that growth is still coming in the form of low-wage, low-skill jobs (so much for closing that pernicious wealth gap, Obama).
And, stepping back, the labor economy in the U.S. reflects an ongoing anemic “recovery” trend – one that hasn’t seen growth commensurate with periods of economic growth through the last two decades of the 20th Century – often cited as a benchmark by which present economic growth is measured.
“Unfortunately, the effects of currency manipulation on the U.S. economy – along with self-imposed restraints on oil and gas development and the manifest inefficiencies imposed by dysfunctional management and profiteering in health care, higher education, and finance – have lowered U.S. annual growth to 1.7 percent since the turn of the century from the 3.4 percent pace accomplished during the Reagan-Clinton era,” wrote Peter Morici for Breitbart today.
“Consequently, jobs creation lags population growth. The unemployment rate, which fell to 6.3 percent in April from 6.7 percent the prior month, wholly masks the extent of the problem. The percentage of adults seeking employment dropped precipitously. One out of six men between the ages of 25 and 54 are without jobs, and many have given up looking for work and are not counted in the jobless rate.”