Why Work?: Labor Participation Rate Takes Another Record Plunge

A record 93,770,000 Americans were not in the American labor force last month, and the labor force participation rate remained at 62.6 percent, exactly where it was in June — a 38-year low, the Labor Department reported on Friday.

In 1975, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics began keeping such records, 58,627,000 Americans were not in the labor force, and the number has grown steadily since then, breaking the 80-million mark at the end of George W. Bush’s presidency; and the 90-million mark in July 2013, during Barack Obama’s second term. The number of Americans not in the labor force has continued to rise since then.

According to the Congressional Budget Office’s 2015 long-term outlook, the number of working Americans is expected to increase more slowly in coming decades, as more workers exit the labor force, many of them retiring baby-boomers; and fewer workers enter it — given declining birth rates and a levelling-off of women in the labor force.

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