Record 94M Americans not in labor force; participation rate drops in May

Record 94M Americans not in labor force; participation rate drops in May

A record 94,708,000 Americans were not in the labor force in May — 664,000 more than in April — and the labor force participation rate dropped two-tenths of a point to 62.6 percent, near its 38-year low, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday.

When President Obama took office in January 2009, 80,529,000 Americans were not participating in the labor force; since then, 14,179,000 Americans have left the workforce — some of them retiring and some just quitting because they can’t find work.

“By almost every economic measure, America is better off than when I came here at the beginning of my presidency,” President Obama told the people of Elkhart, Indiana three days ago. “We cut unemployment in half, years before a lot of economists thought we would.”

The unemployment rate in May dropped to 4.7 percent, BLS reported, less than half of its Obama-era high of 10 percent in October 2009.

But the labor force participation rate has deteriorated over Obama’s two terms.

When Obama took office in January 2009, shortly before the recession hit, the labor force participation rate was 65.7 percent. The following month, it reached an Obama-era high of 65.8 percent, and then it began its seven-year downward spiral, hitting 62.4 percent in September 2015, its lowest point since 1977.

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