Monday, April 30, 2012

Absent without pay: The declining American workforce

Labor force statistics have lately become a flashpoint of controversy. Some argue that work participation rates hide the real unemployment rate, as discouraged workers slip off the unemployment charts. Lost workers, they argue, will reappear as things improve, causing employment numbers to tank again.

Others point to the falling labor force participation rate as proof that the economy is fundamentally unsound, especially given the sharp decline of men in the workforce. A few conspiracy thinkers even suspect the Labor Department is cooking numbers to fudge unemployment for the White House.

The truth, far more complex and interesting, leads to the underbelly of key economic and social upheaval, including landmark changes like the collapse of the manufacturing sector, a steady rise in disability claims, the shifting activities of women and the sudden aging of the baby boom generation. Deseret News

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