94,609,000 Not in Labor Force; Participation Rate Drops to 62.8%

By Susan Jones | November 4, 2016 | 8:42 AM EDT

A sign of the times at a March 2016 job fair in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

(CNSNews.com) - In its final report before next week's presidential election, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Friday that 94,609,000 Americans are not in the labor force, 425,000 more than last month's 94,184,000, and the second highest number on record.

The labor force participation rate dropped a tenth of a point to 62.8 percent. In other words, 62.8 percent of the non-institutionalized, civilian population over the age of 16 is either employed or are actively looking for work, while the other 37.2 percent is not working or even looking.

The number of people employeed dropped 43,000, declining from 151,968,000 in September to 151,925,000 in October; and the number of unemployed people dropped by an even greater amount, 152,000 --falling from 7,939,000 in September to 7,787,000 in October.

The October unemployment rate was 4.9 percent, down a tenth of a point from September.

When George W. Bush took office in January 2000, 69,142,000 people were not in the labor force, and when his two terms ended, the number had grown to 80,380,000.

The recession inherited by President Obama and mounting baby boom retirements are among the factors continuing to push the number up. When President Obama took office in January 2009, 80,529,000 Americans were not in the labor force, and that number has steadily risen during his two terms to its current 94-million level. The number reached a record 94,708, 000 this past May.

In other key indicators, the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics said the economy added 161,000 jobs in October, compared with a revised 191,000 in September.  BLS says over the past 3 months, job gains have averaged 176,000 per month.

In October, the nation’s civilian noninstitutionalized population, consisting of all people 16 or older who were not in the military or an institution, reached 254,321,000.  Of those, 151,925,000 participated in the labor force by either holding a job or actively seeking one.

The 151,925,000 who participated in the labor force equaled 62.8 percent of the 254,321,000 civilian noninstitutionalized population.

The labor force participation rate started rising in the early 1970s as more women entered the labor force. It reached a record high of 67.3 percent, seasonally adjusted, in the beginning of 2000. And it dropped to a 38-year low of 62.4 percent in September 2015. Since then, it has never gone higher than 63.0 percent.

People over age 16 who are no longer working or looking for work, for whatever reason -- retirement, school, family, or they've just given up -- are not participating in the labor force.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for Hispanics declined to 5.7 percent in October, while the rates for adult men (4.6 percent), adult women (4.3 percent), teenagers (15.6 percent), Whites (4.3 percent), Blacks (8.6 percent), and Asians (3.4 percent) showed little change.

Candidates promise 'jobs'

On the campaign trail Thursday, Democrat Hillary Clinton promised to launch "the biggest job creation programs since World War II."

"We are going to invest in infrastructure, advanced manufacturing, technology and innovation. And yes, we are going to combat climate change with clean renewable energy jobs," she told a crowd in North Carolina. She also promised to be the "best president small business has ever had."

Republican Donald Trump, also speaking in North Carolina, was more specific as he promised to bring back America's "stolen" jobs:

"A Trump administration will negotiate NAFTA, and we will stand up to foreign product dumping, currency manipulation, and all unfair subsidy behavior, which is a lot," he said.

"We will also immediately stop the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership, a disaster, another disastrous potential deal. As part of our plan to bring back jobs, we're going to lower taxes on American business from 35 percent to 15 percent.

"We will also cancel billions in global warming payments to the United Nations, billions and billions of dollars. And use that money to support America's environmental and national infrastructure."

Trump also took a swipe at President Obama, now campaigning for Hillary Clinton: "Why isn't he back in the White House bringing our jobs back?" Trump asked.