F.A.S.T.: Good News! The Record Low Labor Participation Rate Is Not Bad News.

Facts Are Stupid Things — November 8, 2015

LaborForce Graphic

With the great news that real wages are finally actually climbing as unemployment sank to 5% with 271,000 new jobs created in October, almost all exclusively in the private sector, the right wing is absolutely up in arms about the truly “bad” economic news: The labor participation rate is at an all time low!

Google it.  You will find nothing but right wing media obsessing over the number.  James Woods actually flipped out over it to the delight of the minions.

The implication here, is that despite all the hocus-pocus involved in faking nearly 9 million new jobs (almost all in the private sector) and the lowest unemployment in a generation, the truth is the Obama economy is a failure because “everyone” has actually given up on finding a job.

A big problem with that theory is it would only be true if the labor participation rate was exclusively a metric of those who have given up looking for work.  It is not.

In short, other than “other,” those who gave up on finding a job make up the smallest category of those not participating in the labor force.  Heading the pack are retirees,  followed closely by the disabled, then students and then people working in the home.

Maybe the headlines should read:
Retired Baby Boomers Relaxing on the Beach Are Not Participating in the Labor Force in Droves.”
That would be more accurate

Here’s a WSJ blog post with two pretty graphics that help clarify.

What We Know About the 92 Million Americans Who Aren’t in the Labor Force

Bottom line, the “bad news”  Obama haters are determined to unearth  has again failed to materialize.