Read it and weep, ladies and gents:
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The official U.S. unemployment rate is falling, but that’s not necessarily a good thing.
That’s because the slice of Americans involved in the labor force has shrunk to a level not seen in 35 years.
The labor force participation rate — the percentage of people over 16 who either have a job or are actively searching for one — fell to 63.2% in August. The last time it was that low was in August of 1978.
In the latter half of the 20th century, the rate rose steadily for decades as more women were entering the workforce, eventually peaking at 67.3% in 2000. But the number has been on the decline ever since — a trend that was accelerated by the Great Recession.
Economist say there are several reasons for the decline, including the retirement of the baby boomers and fewer students who also work. But the main reason for its recent fall is a lack of good jobs.
“We know there’s a lot of hardworking people that want to be productive, we just don’t have work for them to do,” said Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute.
Schierholz said the labor force participation rate would be going down anyway as the baby boomers retire. But she said that since the recession, between two-thirds and three-quarters of the drop can be attributed to the lousy job market.
“We’re operating way below potential,” she said.
Um, can someone say “understatement of the decade”? This is utterly pathetic. That promise he made prior to being elected the first time around about “fundamentally transforming the United States of America” takes on a whole new meaning in this context, doesn’t it? Sad – and disgraceful.