To answer Andrew McAfee’s question (at the end of his post), no I don’t see the labor participation rate rising anytime soon. McAfee argues here that “progress in all things digital” is contributing to the decline in the labor force participation rate. Why should we care? The Wonkblog post that McAfee references answers this question:
To put this in perspective: If the same percentage of adults were in the workforce today as when Barack Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be 10.8 percent.
If you watched the video that Martin Ford shared on his blog, then you should also read McAfee’s post.
It’s been a while since I posted data on US employment trends, so here’s a chart created with FRED’s snazzy new graphing interface. It shows the employment rate (in other words, 100 – the standard unemployment rate) in blue, the employment-to-population ratio (the % of working-age people with work) in green, and the labor force participation rate (the percent of working-age people who have work or are actively looking for it) in red.
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