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Labor Force Disappears in Obama's Depression

This stabilized in the mid-70% range during the 1990s and 2000s, but has just fallen below the 70% mark for the first time in history. Again, the number means that 3 out of 10 working-age American men who are not in prison or the armed forces are not counted in the labor force. They are not looking for work to begin with.

For Americans with only a high school diploma, the results are even more dismal: fewer than 3 out of 5 Americans with only a high school education are counted in the labor force.

Graph of Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate - High School Graduates, No College, 25 years and over

For Americans without a high school diploma, the labor force participation rate is only 45%. Fewer than half are counted in the labor force, that is. The official unemployment rate for the least-educated cohort is 12.5%. That means that fewer than 2 out of 5 adult Americans without a H.S. diploma not in the military or prison actually have a job.