Labor Force Participation Improves; 93,482,000 Americans Not in Labor Force

By Susan Jones | April 1, 2016 | 7:55 AM EDT

(AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - The number of Americans not in the labor force last month totaled 93,482,000, 206,000 fewer than the 93,688,000 not in the labor force in February -- and the labor force participation rate also improved, with 63.0 percent of the civilian noninstitutional population either holding a job or actively seeking one.

In the previous 12 months, the highest labor participation rate was 62.9 percent in February 2016; the lowest was 62.4 percent in September 2015, and that 62.4 percent was the lowest in 38 years.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the economy added 215,000 jobs in March (compared with 242,000 in February), and the unemployment rate ticked up a tenth of a point to 5.0 percent. (It stuck at 4.9 percent in January and February.)

In March, according to the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nation’s civilian noninstitutional population, consisting of all people 16 or older who were not in the military or an institution, reached 252,768,000. Of those, 159,286,000 participated in the labor force by either holding a job or actively seeking one.

The 159,286,000 who participated in the labor force equaled 63.0 percent of the 252,768,000 civilian noninstitutional population.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (4.5 percent), adult women (4.5 percent), teenagers (15.6 percent), Whites (4.3 percent), Blacks (8.8 percent), Asians (3.8 percent), and Hispanics (5.4 percent) showed little or no change in February.

On the negative side, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls declined by 3 cents in Feburary to $25.35, following an increase of 12 cents in January.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (4.5 percent), adult women (4.6 percent), teenagers (15.9 percent), Whites (4.3 percent), Blacks (9.0 percent), Asians (4.0 percent), and Hispanics (5.6 percent) showed little or no change in March.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 2.2 million in March and has shown little movement since June. In March, these individuals accounted for 27.6 percent of the unemployed.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (also referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was about unchanged in March at 6.1 million and has shown little movement since November. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part-time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

In March, 1.7 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, down by 335,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

Among the marginally attached, there were 585,000 discouraged workers in March, down by 153,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.1 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in March had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

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