The employment report was very weak no matter how you sliced it. The unemployment rate fell but this was largely driven by an incredibly large number of people dropping out of the labor force. This recession has been extremely tough on US households. The recession was technically over in the summer of 2009 which seems like an eternity ago. However, the recession was over for a small group of Americans. Labor force participation is now down to where it was in 1979! The report was abysmal no matter how you diced it and this is coming on years of the Fed shoveling trillions of dollars to their friendly neighbor banks. This was supposedly the recipe for recovery but a recovery for which group? Certainly not the typical American family. We have all these measures of distress hitting high levels: people on disability, about 15 percent of our population on food stamps, and labor force participation down to 63.3 percent. This is what happens when 663,000 people drop out of the labor force. Where did the workers go?
Dropping out of the labor force
A larger number of Americans are simply dropping out of the labor force:
This figure is very high and cannot be explained by baby boomers hitting retirement age. We have many working age Americans dropping out of the labor force for a variety of reasons. Some are sticking it out in very expensive colleges or some are applying for disability which has spiked dramatically in this recession. Yet this trend is ongoing and also explains why we have 47.3 million Americans receiving food stamps: