Labor Force Participation Matches 36-Year Low; 92,898,000 Out of Labor Force

By Ali Meyer | January 9, 2015 | 9:07am EST

U.S. job seekers line up. (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - A record 92,898,000 Americans 16 and older did not participate in the labor force in December, as the labor force participation rate dropped to 62.7 percent.

The labor force participation had also been 62.7 percent this September, but prior to that had not been that low since February 1978, which was 36 years ago the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

The labor force participation rate is the percentage of the civilian noninstitutional population who either had a job or was actively seeking one during the month. Those not in the labor force neither had a job, nor sought one.

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In addition to the 36-year low participation rate, a record 92,898,000 Americans did not participate in the labor force in December. That's 456,000 more than the 92,442,000 Americans who did not participate in November.

BLS employment statistics are based on the civilian noninstitutional population, which consists of all people 16 or older who were not in the military or an institution such as a prison, mental hospital or nursing home.

In December, the civilian noninstitutional population was 249,027,000 according to BLS. Of that 249,027,000, 156,129,000--or 62.7 percent--participated in the labor force, meaning they either had or job or had actively sought one in the last four weeks.

Of the 156,129,000 who did participate in the labor force, 147,442,000 had a job and 8,688,000 did not have a job but actively sought one. Those 8,688,000 are the unemployed. They equaled 5.6 percent of the labor force—or an unemployment rate of 5.6 percent (which was down from the 5.8 percent unemployment rate in November).

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