Participation In American Labor Force Drops To Historic Low (Again)

November 14, 2013 by Ben Bullard


Not since the Presidency of Jimmy Carter has participation in the U.S. labor force been as low as it is today. The difference between the Carter Administration and that of President Barack Obama, though, is that job growth under Carter was outpacing the rate at which people were entering, or re-entering, the labor force.

Today, under Obama, the opposite is happening. People are dropping out, because there’s often more incentive to accept a bevy of ever-expanding, low-threshold government doles than a part-time, low-wage service job.

Carter finished his single term in office with 10.5 million more Americans working than when he took office. The Obama Administration has taken credit for a steady uptick in job creation, with the President repeatedly touting the creation of 4.5 million new jobs as he campaigned for re-election.

But those weren’t “new” jobs. They were old jobs people had lost during the recession. Only 300,000 of those jobs represented a net gain for the U.S. labor force. Here’s how CNN’s Election Center explained Obama’s spin:
[T]otal nonfarm payrolls, including government workers, are down from 133.6 million workers at the beginning of 2009 to 133.2 million in July 2012.

There’s been a net loss of nearly 1 million public-sector jobs since Obama took office, despite a surge in temporary hiring for the 2010 census.

Meanwhile, the jobs that have come back aren’t the same ones that were lost.

Are you better off?

According to a study released last week by the liberal-leaning National Employment Law Project, low-wage fields such as retail sales and food service are adding jobs nearly three times as fast as higher-paid occupations.

And even The Washington Post took Obama to task over the summer for bumping up his claims of increasing manufacturing jobs, taking apart the President’s broken-record refrain that he’d added 7 million new jobs, including 500,000 in the manufacturing sector:
By July 2012, the number of manufacturing jobs had risen to 11.957 million, or just shy of a 500,000 job gain. That’s when it became part of the President’s campaign rhetoric.

But at that point, the number also stopping (sic) climbing and instead began bouncing around.

In August 2012, 14,000 manufacturing jobs were lost. In the next month, an additional 18,000 were lost. Then came several months of gains — followed by three months of losses. The preliminary numbers in the employment report released Friday show a loss of 9,000 manufacturing jobs in April and 8,000 in May.

So here we are, nearly one year later, and the United States is still stuck at a gain of 500,000 jobs.

More striking, rather than month-by-month figures, look at the trend when year-to-year calculations are made:

Gain in manufacturing jobs
Jan. 2012 to Jan. 2013: +124,000
Feb. 2012 to Feb. 2013: +118,000
March 2012 to March 2013: +74,000
April 2012 to April 2013: +55,000
May 2012 to May 2013: +41,000
In other words, it’s a downhill trend — headed possibly to zero.

Sure, there’s a bright side, if you’re looking for part-time work with no insurance: part-time jobs have grown a rate sevenfold that of full-time jobs under Obama.

And swinging back around to the shrinking labor force, we come to the latest round of numbers released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. What we learn is that a record-high 91.5 million people aren’t even participating in the labor force, that labor force participation stands at 62.8 percent, and that 932,000 more Americans gave up looking for work in October alone.

“At this pace the people out of the labor force will surpass the working Americans in about 4 years,” observes investment website Zero Hedge.

Obama continues to spin the facts about job growth as a way to demonstrate he’s turned around the abysmal economy he inherited from George W. Bush, but he touts his job growth numbers in a vacuum –one that disregards the troubling fact that more and more people are discouraged from (or enticed, by the welfare state) from even looking for work.

Obama, who’s been President for nearly five years now, doesn’t have to contend with double-digit inflation, as Carter did. And even though participation in the labor force was similarly light during Carter’s Presidency, the economy continued to add jobs eventually drawing dormant job seekers back into the labor force.