Labor participation rate shows troubling trend

During our national Labor Day holiday, we celebrated our many hard-working Americans, took a day off and, perhaps, reflected on what we contribute to the economy.

Trouble is, the percentage of us supporting it is dropping, despite what the government’s unemployment rate reports may have you believe.

It is true that the most recent unemployment rate, 4.4 percent for the nation, is a vast improvement over the depths of the Great Recession, when the number was 9.5 percent.

But a more realistic figure is the labor force participation rate — the percentage of adults able to work who actually do have jobs. Ten years ago, 65.8 percent of working-age, able-bodied Americans had jobs. By this August, the percentage was at 62.9.

In other words, fewer of us work to support more who do not. That is an unsustainable trend. Reversing it needs to be among the nation’s top priorities.

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