Unemployment rate misleading due to shrinking labor force participation

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • Badgerbadger Murray, UT
    Sept. 25, 2013 8:35 p.m.


    I can't make sense out of your comment.

    "....workforce participation rate was better under Obama in the beginning of his recession versus Regan's recession."

    Yes! So you are saying Reagan did much better than Obama, right? Reagan started low and had growth, from 64% participation to 66.5% at the end of his term. Obama's part of the curve is the inverse of Reagan's only steeper (5.5 years), starting at 65.7% and dropping to the current 63.2%.

    Reagan - up 2.5%
    Obama - down 2.5% so far

    I thought you were an Obama fan, but I guess you are a Reagan fan.

    "...participation is lower at the end of a recession that is driven by a lack of demand versus a recession that is driven by an excess of demand."


    A recession driven by an excess of demand???

    If there were an excess of demand, producers would be scrambling to fill that demand, driving production, sales, employment, and profits. That's called growth and prosperity, not recession.

    No wonder things are so bad! Liberals are in charge, and they have prosperity and recession mixed up.

    J-TX and DC (Thanks!) covered your other misconceptions.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    Sept. 25, 2013 1:35 p.m.


    sorry, "your king" is not the right title - we know it should be "the annointed one" or "the deified one"

    thanks for calling poeople you disagree with "stupid" - typical leftist intolerance.

    The fact that the particiation rate has droped under BO is further evidence of the despair he is sowing and that his trickle-up poverty is working.

    using corporate profits as an excuse for a disparing workforce caused by BO's failed policies is insulting to the long-term unemployed. your excuse assumes a finite "pie". Such is not the case - wealth is being created all the time, though at a much slower pace under the deified one.

  • J-TX Allen, TX
    Sept. 25, 2013 1:33 p.m.

    Pragmatist: I'll explain it for you:

    corporate profits are at all time highs - Because they refuse to reinvest, which would grow the work force. Why? Because they are waiting for a more business-friendly administration, one that cares more about employing the citizens than keeping them dependent on Government.

    the stock market is nearly at it's all time high - Because for over a year the current administration has directed the FED to print money to buy billions in bonds to stimulate the market, to give the appearance of health. Why did they refuse to appoint a new Fed Chair who favored easing the bond buys? They don't want the bottom to drop out of the stock market while Obama is in office.

    productivity is at all time highs - Productivity is GDP per employee. Employers are reticent to hire workers, even as business is expanding, because they can't afford Obamacare, or pay more taxes. This reticence pushes the productivity numbers higher.
    Look at a poll of employee morale right now. Millions are unhappy in the work place, stressed because they have too much to do and lack the tools to get it done.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Sept. 25, 2013 12:19 p.m.

    Want to try some selection badger, go look at how the workforce participation rate was better under Obama in the beginning of his recession versus Regan's recession. Is there a reason for this, of course, exactly like there is a reason why workforce participation is lower at the end of a recession that is driven by a lack of demand versus a recession that is driven by an excess of demand. Even at that the difference is some 1.5%.

    Secondly if you look at the whole picture that donahoe lays out you see a very different picture from the simplistic one you try and paint.

    Lastly explain to me how labor force participation is low, corporate profits are at all time highs, the stock market is nearly at it's all time high, and productivity is at all time highs?

    PS. every time you use phrases like "your king" you reveal an ideological mentality that is anything but intelligent.

  • raybies Layton, UT
    Sept. 25, 2013 12:15 p.m.

    We've known for a long while that the babyboomers are going to retire, but instead of accounting for this rather significant shift in our nation's demographics, we're fiddling away what resources we might have used to solve it...

  • Liberal Today Murray, UT
    Sept. 25, 2013 11:31 a.m.

    You just don't realize how good the economy really is. We have more people working part time, which means they are sharing jobs. Isn't it great we have people being nice and sharing?

    On top of that, the government now provides me with food assistance, and soon, health insurance too. What a help to me, and I am sure it helps everyone else too.

    The government can print money which allows the government to buy me things and no one has to pay for it. It's like magic government money. I don't know who make they free stuff I get, but they must get magic government money too.

    If the government would just print enough money for everyone, no one would ever have to work again.

    What could be better?

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    Sept. 25, 2013 8:50 a.m.

    Numbers can be spun in many ways by people without integrity. The system should be full of integrity but each state and contractor that put in the numbers are part of a system that want to make the President happy, no matter what party. I am sure the FDR timeframe was influenced by number crunchers until World War II came and the workforce increased with the number in the military and the women filled those voids or vacancies with numbers that would have been at home and not in the workforce.

    Millions of little kids were born after WWII and homes were built with the GI bill for housing and education. The world changed to users of products instead of rationing even during the Korean War. We didn't wait many years with Vietnam and the communism threat and needed a strong military and the bureaucracy to keep that going. We increased entitlements in the 1960s to keep the riots down and President Johnson's new society, which was a sleight of hand name for socialism. Then we needed data and statistics to show everything was working with this kind of government. People were happy with riots/handouts, not integrity.

  • Badgerbadger Murray, UT
    Sept. 25, 2013 8:46 a.m.

    This economy is so lame it is in a government powered wheel chair!

  • Badgerbadger Murray, UT
    Sept. 25, 2013 8:46 a.m.

    "This is so disingenuous. Unemployment has always been reported like this..."

    Nothing disingenuous here. These numbers have been kept for decades, which allows the current fair comparison. When you compare then and now, it is clear that the real unemployment is at a real high.

    This is not an attack on you or your king. Numbers don't attack. Select numbers used alone don't reveal the whole truth, like the unemployment number based on those seeking work. Adding the numbers of workforce participation and under-employed gives a bigger picture of what our 'recovery' really is, and it shows that 'recovery' is probably not the right word.

  • donahoe NSL, UT
    Sept. 25, 2013 8:19 a.m.

    To high school fan: (1.) I ask you to read these posts from beginning to end. You will find two types of discussions herein. One is a discussion about quantifying the economic situation, including a history of how we got here. This is an approach based on empiricism. The other is an emotion tirade driven by beliefs in ideologies ("left" and "right"). The ideological approach will not take you to understanding beyond an emotional response to events. Many readers may be happy with that ending, I suspect. (2.) As to whether the economy is "good", the Gini Coefficient may help explains what you may be feeling. The measured output of the economy is improving, but the wealth is not being distributed to you, as you may wish. (3.) You incorrectly attribute this change to the current administration. If you look at the historical data, you'll see clearly enough that this change accelerated in the 80s. (4.) Ask the DesNews for an economist to explain this in a special section of a future paper. BYU should have some capable faulty who can explain this in a few pages.

  • JBQ Saint Louis, MO
    Sept. 25, 2013 8:18 a.m.

    The participation rate for 16-19 year olds is very significant. This is the group which usually work part time at the local burger "joint" for experience or while attending school. The attempts to unionize this group for full time wages with health benefits may be well intended but is evidently causing catastrophic results for this group in our society.

  • J Thompson SPRINGVILLE, UT
    Sept. 25, 2013 7:47 a.m.

    How many workers have had their hours cut? They're still counted as being employed, but their take-home pay is only 75% or less than it was before Obama. How many people were fired from good paying jobs and now work at minimum wage, even though they have skills that make them worth many times that wage? They're still counted as being fully employed.

    When the true figures are examined, Obama's administration will be seen as the administration that destroyed the middle class.

    Ask any businessman why he won't hire more people. At the top of his list is ObamaCare. Nobody yet knows what the small businessman will have to pay if he continues to offer health insurance. Nobody yet knows what how much the government will penalize him if he doesn't offer health insurance. When the government can dictate the wages and benefits that a business must offer, without sharing the risk when costs get out of control, that government will destroy the businesses that pay the workers who pay income taxes. Talk about a "death spiral"!

  • high school fan Huntington, UT
    Sept. 25, 2013 7:05 a.m.

    One vote

    Could you please tell us how the economy is improving for you and your friends? Do you all have good paying jobs, do you pay less for groceries, do you pay less for gas, does your pay check go nearly as far, are car prices really higher? This economy, no matter how you look at it , is not good.
    History will judge Obama , and it probably will not be kind but we can worry about that in the future. Right now, we all should worry.

  • What in Tucket? Provo, UT
    Sept. 25, 2013 6:30 a.m.

    Socialist leaning presidents cannot succeed in producing a thriving economy. Government does not run business very well, military does not govern well, etc. Government must get out of the way and our economy will explode. Stimulus bills simply restrain the system Free enterprise is the only route to prosperity. We need a participation economy where everyone able to work should work, and educational system that actually teaches, a lower tax rate for corporations and a simplified system of taxation.

  • one vote Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 25, 2013 5:06 a.m.

    The Romney/Bush supporters are so bitter that they are spinning job statistics to bolster the idea that the economy is not improving.

  • donahoe NSL, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 5:14 p.m.

    lost, unemployment is not a statistic that provides insight into earnings. U6 does reflect participation. Moreover, changes in the Gini Coefficient over time reveals growing inequity ,which is another way to point to income issues. We are now at depression levels in that metric.

  • m.g. scott clearfield, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 2:09 p.m.

    Many of you Obama defenders are proving that with statistics anything can be proven or disproven. And many of you are trying to defend Obama by going back in time to compare statistics. As Hillary would say "What Difference Does It Make?" We have been living with Obama going on 5 years now and this economy is no where near what it could and should be. That is a fact without need of statistics.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 1:52 p.m.

    Hope and change?

    Nope – despair and poverty

    I’m not sure you read the article when you talk about the segment of society who choose not to enter the workforce.

    Yes, there is that segment, but it is at its highest point since 1978, when we had the second worst president in our history (carter, with BO being the worst). Since the article said the participation rate is at its lowest since 1978, we know Reagan had a higher participation rate. Why didn’t YOU look it up?

    It seems you choose to ignore all the reports showing the only job growth is in low-wage industries. it seems you choose to ignore the participation rate is at its lowest point since 1978 – people have given up hope.

  • TRUTH Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 12:27 p.m.

    @ Donahoe...recovery huh? Why are people today worth less than they were 5 years ago...? some recovery!

  • morpunkt Glendora, CA
    Sept. 24, 2013 11:39 a.m.

    Trickle up poverty is now evident.

  • donahoe NSL, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 9:27 a.m.

    TRUTH: Let's look at data. The current president assumed office in January of 2009. BLS reported the official unemployment rate (U3) was 7.8 % that month. In August '13 U3 was 7.3%. If you want to look at the bigger picture, U6 (Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force) was 14.2% in January 2009. U6 hovered at 17.1% for the last three months of 2009. In August U6 was 13.7%. The country is recovering. As to how we got into this bind, that is a much longer and more complex story.

  • TRUTH Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 8:35 a.m.

    By design the unemployment numbers are misleading.....
    Obama couldn't let the American people know the truth....
    -90 million unemployed
    -worst economy in us history
    -all of the job creation under Obama is part time minimum wage jobs

    And he did this intentionally to create a dependent welfare state large enough to force the USA into a welfare state that elects liberal democrats as a rule........dopes for hope!

  • donahoe NSL, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 8:05 a.m.

    BLS provides six unemployment metrics. For example, in BLS Table A-15. Alternative measures of labor underutilization reads "NOTE: Persons marginally attached to the labor force are those who currently are neither working nor looking for work but indicate that they want and are available for a job and have looked for work sometime in the past 12 months. Discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached, have given a job-market related reason for not currently looking for work. Persons employed part time for economic reasons are those who want and are available for full-time work but have had to settle for a part-time schedule. Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data. "

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Sept. 24, 2013 7:46 a.m.

    This is so disingenuous. Unemployment has always been reported like this and there has always been a segment of society who choose not to enter, or reenter the work force. The Human Resource Association use to report the numbers in their monthly journal, and decades ago if you looked at the right figures unemployment was underreported by half. There were pages of ways to look at the numbers and as I remember it the best the numbers showed was an underreporting of about a quarter. The only thing different now for Republicans is Obama is the President.

    During Regan's fifth year of his presidency the unemployment rate was about 7.5%. Why don't you go back and report on what labor market participation looked like then? I bet the numbers are still available.

  • Say No to BO Mapleton, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 7:18 a.m.

    So, is it progress that Obama has swelled the hard core unemployed?
    As pointed out, this problem is greatest among the low-skilled population.
    Tell me again why we are offering amnesty to low-skilled illegal aliens when so many of our own are out of work???