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Rebound: 90 Million Eligible Workers Have Dropped Out Of Labor Force

October 22, 2013 by  

There are 316 million people – men, women and children – living in the United States.

Of that number, approximately 245 million are eligible to work according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. By the bureau’s most recent count, there are 155,559,000 people working at some kind of job – and, as new numbers released Tuesday reveal, there are 90,609,000 more eligible workers who have elected to drop out of the labor force.

That’s more than one third of eligible workers who, for various reasons, aren’t factored into the BLS unemployment computation – which would explain, at least in part, why the unemployment rate remains stable (it’s currently at 7.2 percent, down from 7.3 percent in August.) Employment in the U.S. increased by about 133,000 people last month, but 73,000 eligible workers dropped out during the same period.

That continues a five-year trend. The pre-recession labor force remained relatively stable until late 2008, when it began a numbers dive that persists to this day. Since President Barack Obama took office, the percentage of eligible Americans participating in the labor force has sunk from 65.7 percent to a new low of 63.2 percent.

For some perspective, here’s a 10-year graph taken from the BLS website:

BLS GRAPH

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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