91,541,000 Americans Not in Labor Force Climbs to Another Record in October

November 8, 2013 - 10:45 AM
Unemployment Benefits

In this Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, file photo, registered nurse Salanda Bowman, left, talks with part-time Kentucky Wesleyan College student, Jason Ward, of Whitesville, about job openings at the Owensboro Health Regional Hospital during a Regional Career and Job Fair in the Owensboro Sports Center in Owensboro, Ky. (AP Photo/The Messenger-Inquirer, Gary Emord-Netzley, File)

(CNSNews.com) - The number of Americans who are 16 years or older and who have decided not to participate in the nation's labor force has climbed to a record 91,541,000 in October, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The BLS counts a person as participating in the labor force if they are 16 years or older and either have a job or have actively sought a job in the last four weeks. A person is not participating in the labor force if they are 16 or older and have not sought a job in the last four weeks.

From August to September, according to BLS, Americans not participating in the labor force climbed from 90,473,000 to 90,609,000, with a one-month increase of 136,000.

In October, it climbed again to 91,541,000, an increase of 932,000 during the month.

In January 2009, when President Barack Obama took office, there were 80,507,000 Americans not in the labor force. Thus, the number of Americans not in the labor force has increased by 11,034,000 during Obama's presidency.

The labor force participation rate, which is the percentage of the non-institutionalized population 16 years or older who either have a job or actively sought one in the last four weeks, was 62.8 percent in October. It has decreased by 0.4 percentage points from September when it was at 63.2 percent.

When Obama took office in January 2009, the labor force participation rate was 65.7 percent.

The overall national unemployment rate – which is the percentage of people participating in the labor force who actively sought a job and did not find one in October – was 7.3 percent. That was a slight increase from the 7.2 percent unemployment rate in September. When Obama took office in 2009, the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent.

The number of people actually employed decreased by 735,000 last month, decreasing from 144,303,000 in September to 143,568,000 in October. When Obama took office in January 2009, there were 142,153,000 Americans employed – meaning the number has increased by 1,415,000 over the past 58 months.

One reason for the increasing number of people not in the labor force is the aging of the Baby Boom generation, whose members have begun retiring – and are not being replaced by an equal number of young people entering the labor force.

Another reason is that female participation in the labor force has been declining. In January 2009, the female labor force participation rate was 59.4 percent. In October 2013, it was 56.9 percent.

The business and economic reporting of CNSNews.com is funded in part with a gift made in memory of Dr. Keith C. Wold.