Unemployment rate falls to 4.6%, but …

More able-bodied men are sitting on their duffs …


The November jobs report in a nutshell: 160k jobs added, but … the adult population increased by 219k and the civilian labor force contracted by 226k … so, the labor force participation rate dropped again.


It’s no secret that the Labor Force Participation — the % of able bodied adults who are employed or looking for work —  has dropped about 4-1/2 percentage points from pre-financial crisis levels … and continues to fall.



The economy-is-doing-just-fine crowd chalks the declining rate to demographics – old-timers retiring.

In prior posts I’ve attributed about 1/3 to retirees … the rest to slackers.

To that point, let’s cut the data a different way …


I like to look at another Fed data series – the Prime Age Male Inactivity Rate.

The inactivity rate is the percentage of able bodied adults who are neither employed nor looking for work

The number-crunchers report the activity rate by sex and age category.

Below is the Inactivity Rate for men between 25 and 54.

That takes out most students and retirees.



Note that during the Bill Clinton years the inactivity rate among 25 to 54 year old men held relatively constant at about 8.5% .

The rate jumped a point during the Bush years to 9.5%.

During these recent all-is-well days, the rate hopped a northeast trajectory to its current rate – just under 12%.

That’s almost 12% of our 25 to 54 year old able-bodied men kicking back without a job.

They are either unemployed … or out of the labor force (i.e. not even looking).

Begs a question: what the heck are they doing?

Stay tuned, we’re looking into that …



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3 Responses to “Unemployment rate falls to 4.6%, but …”

  1. TTK Says:

    Good thing you completely ignored the rise of women in the workforce over the same period. This is my favorite venue for half of the necessary analysis!

    • SJ Says:

      I do not understand the point. More women in the workforce makes the the lower participation rate any different? Please notice that the overall participation rate which has declined includes BOTH men and women. Men have fared worse.

  2. John Milnes Baker Says:

    I love it that the NY Times and Wash Post credit Obama with leaving Trump a booming economy. WOWI I better renew my subscription after all – they really get it right.

    And people still keep these “news outlets” in business by buying their worthless propaganda sheets.
    Hard to believe.

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