The Department of Labor reported that the labor force participation rate in April was 62.8 percent, down 0.4 percent from March and tied for the lowest level in 36 years. Labor force participation fell by 806,000 in April.
If the labor force participation rate were the same as when President Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be 10.4 percent.
The share of American adults with jobs in April was 58.9 percent, unchanged from the previous month. This is more than four percentage points below its pre-recession peak.
The number of long-term unemployed (those unemployed for 27 weeks or longer) is 3.5 million Americans. This represents 35.3 percent of the unemployed. During the 1980s, when our country faced a similar recessionary period, the proportion of long-term unemployed never exceeded 27 percent.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen recently raised concern with the consistent number of Americans working part time for economic reasons – because they cannot find a full-time position or their hours have been cut back. In April, this was 7.5 million, an increase of 54,000 from March.
Additionally, there were 783,000 people in April categorized as “discouraged workers” — those not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. This is an increase of 85,000 from the previous month.
The number of unemployed reentrants and new entrants to the workforce declined last month by 417,000 and 126,000 respectively.
According to a May 1 paper from the Economic Policy Institute, there are nearly one million “missing” young workers who are neither employed nor actively looking because job opportunities remain scarce. “For the next 10-15 years,” the report says, “those in the Class of 2014 will likely earn less than if they had graduated when job opportunities were plentiful.”
Employment and Unemployment
The unemployment rate was 6.3percent in April, down 0.4 percent from last month. The Labor Department reported an increase of 288,000 nonfarm jobs over the previous month. Payroll employment for February was revised from 197,000 to 222,000 jobs created, with the figure for March revised from 192,000 to 203,000 new jobs.
The number of unemployed people in April fell by 733,000 to 9.8 million.
The “real” number of unemployed Americans is 19.5 million. These are people who are unemployed (9.8 million), want work but have stopped searching for a job (2.2 million), or are working part time because they cannot find full time employment (7.5 million).
The “real” unemployment or U-6 rate is 12.3 percent, down 0.4 percent from March. This is the total percentage of unemployed and underemployed workers.