First Term: Americans ‘Not in Labor Force’ Increased 8,332,000

By Terence P. Jeffrey | January 20, 2013 | 9:56am EST

 

President Barack Obama (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

(CNSNews.com) - The number of Americans age 16 or older who decided not to work or even to seek a job increased by 8,332,000 to a record 88,839,000 in President Barack Obama’s first term, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

At the same time, the number of retired workers collecting Social Security increased by only 4,234,480.

The increase in Americans opting out of the labor force during Obama’s first term resulted in a decrease in the labor force participation rate from 65.7 percent in January 2009, the month Obama was first inaugurated, to 63.6 percent in December 2012, the latest month reported. Before Obama took office, the labor force participation rate had not been as low as 63.6 percent since 1981, the year President Ronald Reagan took over from President Jimmy Carter.

To be in the labor force a person must either have a job or actively sought one in the previous four weeks.

When Obama was inaugurated in January 2009, there were 80,507,000 American civilians age 16 or older who did not have a job or seek one. In December 2012, there were 88,839,000—thus, the increase of 8,332,000.

Also, in January 2009, there were 32,484,808 retired workers collecting Social Security benefits, according to the Social Security Administration. By December 2012 that had risen to 36,719,288, and increase of 4,234,480.

The increase in the number of Americans not participating in the labor force during Obama’s presidency outstripped the increase in the retired workers collecting Social Security by 4,097,520 persons.

In the comparable period of George W. Bush’s second term, the number of Americans choosing not to participate in the labor force went from 76,808,000 in January 2005 to 80,380,000 in December 2008—an increase of 3,572,000.

At the same time during Bush’s second term, the number of retired workers collecting Social Security rose from 30,086,392 to 32,273,145, and increase of 2,186,753. During this period, the increase in those not participating in the labor force outstripped the increase in retired workers collecting Social Security by only 1,385,247.

The rate of participation in the labor force was the same in January 2005 that it was in December 2008—65.8 percent.

In Bush’s first term, the number of Americans choosing not to participate in the labor force went from 70,088,000 in January 2001 to 76,581,000 in December 2004, an increase of 6,493,000.  In January 2001, the labor force participation rate was 67.2 percent. In December 2004, it was 65.9 percent.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has been tracking the labor force participation rate since 1948. Since then, the rate peaked at 67.3 percent, a level it maintained for the first four months of 2000.

Before President Obama took office, the labor force participation rate had not been as low as 63.6 percent since 1981, which was the year President Ronald Reagan took over from President Jimmy Carter.

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