The big news in Friday’s employment report was not the miserable 115,000 jobs the economy added in April, but the disappearance of 340,000 workers from the labor force. We haven’t seen unemployment on this scale since the Great Depression. Indeed, since Obama took office, the labor force participation rate has fallen from 66% to 63% as almost 5 million American adults stopped looking for work. About a fifth of working-age Americans aren’t working — and a fifth of all personal income is transfer payments. These numbers are astonishing and without precedent. If they continue, America will go bankrupt. Obama’s hope for re-election lies in dependency. No one could run for re-election as dogcatcher with this record — except for the cynical presumption that Americans have become so dependent on the state that they have lost hope of working again, and will vote for more state dependency.
If you’re not scared, you haven’t read the numbers. Here they are, courtesy of the St. Louis Fed’s excellent free data base.
Not since the 1970s has the overall labor force participation rate been this low. As women began entering the labor force in large numbers, the overall participation rose. Truly alarming, though, is the labor force participation rate for men: