Oct 15 2012
To view the chart, please click here. Sessions’ statement follows:
“The essential point of this chart is not simply how many people are employed or unemployed, but to illustrate that more and more people are simply not part of the U.S. labor force. This confirms that we are on the wrong track. It is unsustainable to have such a large and growing number of people who are not part of the productive economy. This is not a political argument, but a description of the underlying instability in our economy that has so many Americans worried about the future. The question is what can we do to reverse these trends and start moving in the right direction
The numbers represented in the chart are a measure of growth from January 2009 through September 2012. The data is sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey, a sample of 60,000 households conducted by personal and telephone interviews. Basic labor force data are gathered monthly. The labor force consists of all people aged 16 and over either employed or actively seeking work. It does not include discouraged workers, people who have retired, or those on welfare or disability who are no longer looking for work. The “not in the labor force” group is defined as the total civilian non-institutional population minus the labor force.
Since January 2009, the labor force has grown by 0.54 percent, or 827,000 people (from 154,236,000 to 155,063,000). Those not in the labor force grew by 10.2 percent during the same period (8,208,000 people), from 80,502,000 to 88,710,000. In other words, for every one person added to the labor force of the United States since January 2009, the size of the U.S. population not in the labor force grew by 10 people.
These figures reveal several troubling trends: That the jobs market is not keeping pace with U.S. population growth; that not enough younger Americans are joining the labor force to account for retirement among an aging population; and that a large number of workers have become so discouraged that they simply stopped looking for work and left the labor force entirely. These factors pose serious fiscal challenges for the United States. A historically low labor force participation rate—together with an aging population and a record number of people drawing federal welfare benefits—puts severe strain on the federal budget in both the near and long term.