[Above image: Scott's Run, West Virginia. "Unemployed bachelor." 1937, US National Archives]
Besides the officially "unemployed," 93 million other Americans aren't working and aren't looking for jobs
If it seems like you're running into more people who aren't working and don't appear to be trying to find jobs...it's not your imagination.
According to the U.S. government's Bureau of Labor Statistics, the labor participation rate has hit 62.6 percent. That's the worst in 38 years, since the dog days of 1977. The "labor participation rate" measures the percentage of people age 16 or older who are working or actively looking for a job.
[quote] Labor participation has hit 62.6% --a 38 year low.[/quote]
This means more than 37% of America's potential work force has given up or isn't even trying to find a job. More than one in three. And that means the burden of feeding the payroll tax monster--paying taxes on wages and for social security--is falling upon a shrinking group of people who do work.
The dim statistic is at odds with others more often cited in the news media as reason for optimism. For example, there are more job openings today than at any point since the government began tracking it in 2000. In June, the unemployment rate was at a seven year low: 5.3 percent. In August it fell to 5.1 percent. So how could it also be true that so many people aren't even trying to work?
That's because of a statistical decision the government made in 1994. It decided that people who aren't working and haven't been interested in looking for a job for a long time shouldn't be counted as unemployed. They are simply removed from the calculation, as if they don't exist.
[button link="http://www.bls.gov/cps/revisions1994.pdf"]Read the 1994 Bureau of Labor Statistics Changes[/button]
At the time, the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics called it "a relatively minor change." But the result has been that, ever since 1994, the unemployment figure under both Democrat and Republican administrations looks better than it otherwise would. Sometimes, far better.
[button link="http://qz.com/286213/the-chart-obama-haters-love-most-and-the-truth-behind-it/"]Democrats defend unemployment stat[/button]
Using this statistical method, the Bureau of Labor Statistics removed 640,000 Americans from unemployment statistics in June. They joined almost 94 million others who aren't working and aren't looking. Critics argue the statistic is accurate but misleading because the Bureau of Labor Statistics includes many people who are too old or too young to work.
[button link="http://www.usnews.com/news/the-report/articles/2015/07/16/unemployment-is-low-but-more-workers-are-leaving-the-workforce"]Read US News and World Report article[/button]
[button link="http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS11300000"]Read the Bureau of Labor Statistic's report[/button]
[button link="http://www.bls.gov/cps/cps_htgm.pdf"]Read how the govt. currently calculates "unemployed"[/button]