92,594,000: Americans Not in Labor Force Hits All-Time Record; Participation Rate Matches 36-Year Low

May 2, 2014 - 7:43 AM

Barack Obama and Jobs

(AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - A record 92,594,000 Americans were not in the labor force in April as the labor force participation rate matched a 36-year low of 62.8 percent, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In March, according to BLS's non-seasonally adjusted data, there were 91,630,000 Americans not in the labor force. In April, that increased by 964,000 people to an all-time record of 92,594,000. The previous record was 92,534,000, set in January of this year.

The BLS's seasonally-adjusted number for people not in the labor force--which was 92,018,00 for April--was also an all-time record. This was up 988,000 from the 91,030,000 seasonally adjusted number BLS said was not in the labor force in March.  (The previous all-time seasonally-adjusted high for people not in the labor force was 91,8080,000, which occurred in December 2013.)

Labor Force Participation

"Seasonal adjustment is a statistical technique that attempts to measure and remove the influences of predictable seasonal patterns to reveal how employment and unemployment change from month to month," says BLS. "These seasonal adjustments make it easier to observe the cyclical, underlying trend, and other nonseasonal movements in the series."

The seasonally adjusted labor force participation rated dropped from 63.2 percent in March to 62.8 percent in April, matching a 36-year low. Prior to October 2013, the labor force participation rate had not gone as low as 62.8 percent since March 1978. In the last seven months it has matched that low in three months--October 2013, December 2013 and April 2013.

BLS employment statistics are calculated using what BLS calls the civilian noninstitutional population. This includes all persons in the United States 16 and older, who are not on active duty in the military or in an institution such as a prison, nursing home, or mental hospital. The civilian noninstitutional population is divided into two basic parts: those in the labor force and those not in the labor force. To be in the labor force a person must either have a job or have actively sought a job in the last four weeks. A person not in the labor force is a person who neither had a job nor actively sought one. The unemployment rate is the percentage of people in the labor force who actively sought a job in the past four weeks but did not get one.

Because of the way the unemployment rate is calculated, the rate can actually go down even when the number of people who are employed is also going down.

In April, the civilian noninstitutional population of people 16 and older was 247,439,000. Of these, according to BLS's seasonally adjusted numbers, 155,421,000 participated in the labor force (down 806,000 from the 156,227,000 who participated in the labor force in March). That yielded the labor force participation rate of 62.8 percent--matching the 36-year low.

Of the 155,421,000 who participated in the labor force in April, 145,669,000 were employed (meaning they had some kind of job, including both full- and part-time jobs), and 9,753,000 were unemployed (meaning they looked for a job and did not find one).

The 9,753,000 who looked for a job and did not find one, and thus were "unemployed," equaled 6.3 percent of the 155,421,000 still in the labor force--yielding an unemployment rate of 6.3 percent.

In March, in the then-larger civilian labor force of 156,227,000, there were 10,486,000 who actively sought a job and did not find one--yielding an unemployment rate of 6.7 percent.

In March, according to BLS's seasonally adjusted numbers, there were 145,742,00 people who were employed. In April, that dropped by 73,000 to 145,669,000.

Thus, in April, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped at the same time the number of people with jobs dropped. (In the BLS's non-seasonally adjusted data, the number of people employed increased by 677,000 from March to April, climbing from 145,090,000 to 145,767,000.)