WaPo: Say, there seems to be a lot fewer workers these days

posted at 9:21 am on April 8, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Perhaps we should be happy that the Washington Post has finally noticed that the labor force has rapidly eroded during the so-called recovery in the Barack Obama presidency, but they still seem to have trouble with the data.  Friday’s jobs report for March 2013, with its below-population-growth level of 88,000 jobs added and the exodus of 496,000 more workers from the labor force shocked everyone out of the post-election complacency, and the Post sends out a long-overdue APB:

Put out an all-points bulletin: Millions of Americans have gone missing from the workforce.

Every month that those would-be workers are gone raises the odds that they might never come back, dimming the prospects for future economic growth. …

The Labor Department reported that the U.S. labor force — everyone who has a job or is looking for one — shrank by 500,000 people in March. That brought the civilian labor force participation rate to 63.3 percent in March, its lowest level since May 1979. And it left the workforce several million members smaller than the Congressional Budget Office estimates that it should be, given the nation’s demographics.

So far, so good — except that the Post tries to sell this as a decade-long trend:

The vanishing trend is more than a decade old, but it accelerated during the Great Recession. Throughout 2012, economists held out hope that it had stopped. But then came Friday’s jobs report, and hopes were dashed.

There’s so much false information in that paragraph that even the “the” and the “but” are suspect.  For the record, here is the actual decade-long trend from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is the official record-keeper of this metric:

bls-civ-pop-part-rate

 

First, it’s very clear that the trend downward didn’t begin ten years ago.  For the first six years of the last decade, the civilian labor force participation rate stayed nearly level in the 66% range.  It didn’t start dropping below that level until the last quarter of 2008.

However, it didn’t really start accelerating until six months into Obama’s term.  That’s about the same time that the Great Recession officially ended — June 2009 — and the technical recovery began.  At that point, the CLFPR was 65.7%, just a tenth of a point below January 2005′s 65.8% and exactly what it was when Obama took office.  In the three years and nine months since, it has plunged two and a half points to 63.3%, the lowest it’s been since Jimmy Carter’s presidency.

With that data presented, let’s see a show of hands among economists who “held out hope” that the trend had “stopped.”  Let’s also see the show of hands among those economists who thought the trend started in 2003.  I’d ask for a show of hands from the Washington Post’s layers of fact-checkers and editors who vetted that claim against the actual data, but it’s clear that none of them bothered.  Apparently, they were so concerned about not hanging the blame for this on the Obama administration that fact-checking just slipped their minds.

They’re also perplexed about the demographics of the slide:

Perplexingly, the driving force behind the decline does not appear to be baby boomers beginning to retire, an event economists have long predicted would shrink the size of the workforce. It’s people in the prime of their working years, ages 25 to 54, who began tumbling out of the job market in the early 2000s and have continued to disappear during the recovery.

Why might that be?  Could it be that the crash damaged retirement accounts badly enough that seniors put off retirement plans and held onto jobs longer than expected?  Could it be that increases in the cost of hiring — say, ObamaCare and other regulation — made employers less likely to take risks with younger workers, and that the cost of hiring older workers came down when the jobs market tanked?

Don’t ask the Washington Post or its economists.  They don’t seem to have a grasp of the data, let alone the problem:

Economists have ideas but not all the answers.

“Prime-aged people are working less, and we don’t know why,” said Betsey Stevenson, a labor economist and associate professor at the University of Michigan. “I get concerned because there are a lot of people who have useful and productive skills that could really contribute to the economy, and we’re just failing to find ways to get them involved.”

Maybe the Post can find those answers if they start off by looking at the data.

Update: One commenter notes that the Post called this trend “more than a decade old,” but as the same commenter points out, that’s still a false argument.  Let’s look at the trend over 34 years, since the last time we saw 63.3% participation rate:

bls-civ-pop-part-rate-30yrs

 

The bump to over 67% came during the dot-com bubble in the late 1990s.  The overall trend after the Reagan recovery had the participation rate in the low-to-mid-66% range until the end of 2008.  And once again, we see the falloff not as a “trend,” but as a plunge that has almost entirely taken place during the so-called “recovery” of Obamanomics.

Update II: Jim Tankersey and I debated this on Twitter a few minutes ago.  Kudos to him for engaging, but he’s arguing that the trend between 2000-3 is more significant than the 2009-present decline, which is simply absurd.  Be sure to read our Twitter feeds (mine is here).

Update III: Or heck, just go to Big Gator’s feed here to pick it all up … since he started the fight in the first place.  Bad Gator!


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On the male side, it’s been a 5-decade-long trend that accelerated since 2008. On the female side, it’s a 3 1/2-year-long trend that started after the Great Recession “ended.

Steve Eggleston on April 8, 2013 at 9:23 AM

The new America.
Transformed..
or something..

Electrongod on April 8, 2013 at 9:24 AM

Mooch would be proud..

Electrongod on April 8, 2013 at 9:25 AM

The vanishing trend is more than a decade old, but it accelerated during the Great Recession.

Why use the past tense?

OK, maybe the technical definition of a “recession” is two consecutive quarters of negative GNP and we haven’t had that for a while. So we aren’t in a recession, but in a depression.

It’s the Obama Depression, people.

rbj on April 8, 2013 at 9:26 AM

Why might that be? Could it be that the crash damaged retirement accounts badly enough that seniors put off retirement plans and held onto jobs longer than expected? Could it be that increases in the cost of hiring — say, ObamaCare and other regulation — made employers less likely to take risks with younger workers, and that the cost of hiring older workers came down when the jobs market tanked?

Or could it be the Boomers and their older siblings are afraid that the younger generations don’t want to be the only ones holding the bag for the unsustainable elderly portion of the welfare state?

Steve Eggleston on April 8, 2013 at 9:27 AM

D’oh

cmsinaz on April 8, 2013 at 9:27 AM

“Prime-aged people are working less, and we don’t know why,” said Betsey Stevenson, a labor economist and associate professor at the University of Michigan. “I get concerned because there are a lot of people who have useful and productive skills that could really contribute to the economy, and we’re just failing to find ways to get them involved.”

Is that a serious quote? Yeah, they’re working less(or not at all) because there are no damn jobs! But don’t worry. I hear Obama is gonna pivot toward that eventually.

Doughboy on April 8, 2013 at 9:27 AM

Translation: Look everywhere except at the halfwit economic retards which populate the current administration.

Bishop on April 8, 2013 at 9:29 AM

OK, maybe the technical definition of a “recession” is two consecutive quarters of negative GNP and we haven’t had that for a while. So we aren’t in a recession, but in a depression.

It’s the Obama Depression, people.

rbj on April 8, 2013 at 9:26 AM

The NBER definition of a “recession” is a slow economic period during a Republican administration. Thus, it’s unpossible for a Rat President to preside over a “depression” (at least according to the NBER).

Steve Eggleston on April 8, 2013 at 9:30 AM

Someone give them the Captain Obvious Award.

They see it, but just can’t bring themselves to lay it at Barky’s feet.

Fools

D-fusit on April 8, 2013 at 9:32 AM

But we must legalize undocumented democrats.

We can’t deport them.

Speakup on April 8, 2013 at 9:33 AM

Serious question, when is the last time that we’ve heard the rat-eared devil mention anything about the unemployment rate? During the SOTU? He talks about protecting the middle class all the time and he talks in general terms about job creation through “investment” in stuff via more government spending. But when was the last time he talked about the legions of people who have become unemployed thanks to this administration’s bad stewardship and hatred of the private sector?

In the past few weeks the rat-eared devil has spent much time talking about legitimizing sodomite relationships, about amnesty for a bunch of trespassers, and today he once again stands on the bodies of those 20 murdered children and takes on our Second Amendment civil rights. But somewhere along the line you’d think the media would get around to asking him about the unemployment rate.

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2013 at 9:34 AM

But we must legalize undocumented democrats.

We can’t deport them.

Speakup on April 8, 2013 at 9:33 AM

Well that’s because amnesty will deliver millions of new workers to the country. Unfortunately almost none of them will have actual jobs, but that’s a small technicality we can overlook.

Doughboy on April 8, 2013 at 9:35 AM

“Prime-aged people are working less, and we don’t know why,” said Betsey Stevenson, a labor economist and associate professor at the University of Michigan. “I get concerned because there are a lot of people who have useful and productive skills that could really contribute to the economy, and we’re just failing to find ways to get them involved.”

Stupidity on display. Twenty-five to thirty grand per for that kind of genius.

msupertas on April 8, 2013 at 9:35 AM

Serious question, when is the last time that we’ve heard the rat-eared devil mention anything about the unemployment rate? During the SOTU?

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2013 at 9:34 AM

I’ve heard Obama talk about the unemployment rate. Usually in the first Friday of the month when the jobs report comes out. Since that’s the only economic statistic that on the surface looks positive, he continuously cites its decline as alleged proof that economy is improving.

Doughboy on April 8, 2013 at 9:37 AM

It’s important to remember this fact. During the last five years, the rat-eared devil has put more people on unemployment and food stamps programs than he has put into jobs.

The adminstration can cook the numbers all they want to prevent a double dip recession from technically occurring but the reality is that the economy is hardly robust or roaring back.

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2013 at 9:39 AM

Why, when sitting on one’s arse can net a single mother $30,000 in government benefits (over $45,000 if she ships the little one off to daycare), would anybody want to work?

Steve Eggleston on April 8, 2013 at 9:39 AM

At least the nonworkers aren’t clogging up the roads and freeways polluting the air and water everyday.They use less resources and their carbon footprint is smaller which is better for the collective good.//

docflash on April 8, 2013 at 9:40 AM

Why, when sitting on one’s arse can net a single mother $30,000 in government benefits (over $45,000 if she ships the little one off to daycare), would anybody want to work?

Steve Eggleston on April 8, 2013 at 9:39 AM

Or get married for that matter? Seriously, why is it at all worth it from an economic standpoint?

MelonCollie on April 8, 2013 at 9:41 AM

If the cause is not gay-marriage opponents or gun-rights proponents, it mus be GOP gerrymandering…
Am I right Liberals? Because it could not possibly be entitlement economics.

mjbrooks3 on April 8, 2013 at 9:42 AM

Since that’s the only economic statistic that on the surface looks positive, he continuously cites its decline as alleged proof that economy is improving.

Doughboy on April 8, 2013 at 9:37 AM

Yeah but how many months have those numbers reflected individuals leaving the workforce and not job creation? I throw these comments into the catagory of general blather because he makes some sort of clucking noise about too many Americans not having jobs that want them without any substantive discussion of what the administration is doing about it.

The rat-eared devil has put more people on food stamps and unemployment than he has put to work. This needs to be a central message heading into the 2014 budget talks and ramp up to the mid-term elections.

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2013 at 9:42 AM

Don’t worry.

Those unemployed folks may be disappearing from the labor force rolls, but they’re not disappearing entirely; they’re showing up on the food stamp, welfare, and disability rolls!

And you know what Nancy Pelosi told us: nothing stimulates the economy better than pumping up those food stamp rolls!

Let the good times roll!

AZCoyote on April 8, 2013 at 9:43 AM

Why, when sitting on one’s arse can net a single mother $30,000 in government benefits (over $45,000 if she ships the little one off to daycare), would anybody want to work?

Steve Eggleston on April 8, 2013 at 9:39 AM

Yep, we’ve made not working too lucrative for the parasites to give up and get a damn job.

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2013 at 9:44 AM

Why, when sitting on one’s arse can net a single mother $30,000 in government benefits (over $45,000 if she ships the little one off to daycare), would anybody want to work?

Steve Eggleston on April 8, 2013 at 9:39 AM

Yep, we’ve made not working too lucrative for the parasites to give up and get a damn job.

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2013 at 9:44 AM

Imagine the problems we could solve if we were permitted to bring back shaming.

Obesity, single-motherhood, adultry, bad parenting, misbehaved children et al.

No legislation required. Just a healthy sense of shame.

Washington Nearsider on April 8, 2013 at 9:47 AM

Yeah but how many months have those numbers reflected individuals leaving the workforce and not job creation?

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2013 at 9:42 AM

Probably nearly every month. But that wasn’t my point. Anyone who’s not a low information voter is aware of why the unemployment rate is dropping. Hell, it’s almost getting to the point where even some low information morons will be aware that hundreds of thousands are exiting the workforce on a monthly basis(especially since they’re among them).

My point is that Obama is trying to sell the declining unemployment rate as proof that the economy is improving and that his policies are working. Based on recent polls, most of the public ain’t buying that(too bad they didn’t have this epiphany BEFORE last November). But what other choice does he have? He has only two economic statistics he can cite in his favor: the falling unemployment rate and the streak of consecutive months with positive job growth. Both are meaningless given the anemic GDP, wages not keeping up with cost of living, and the shrinking workforce, but like I said, he doesn’t have a choice.

Doughboy on April 8, 2013 at 9:51 AM

To be fair Ed, they say

The vanishing trend is more than a decade old

as in going back before 2003. To that extent they are correct, go back to say 1999 and you’ll see a sharp drop off in the participation rate around the time Bush took office. That being said it wasn’t a trend, it was the economy returning to mean after the go go tech bubble years of the late 90′s when every person marginally interested in a job was pulled into the job market. As the economy returned to normal they left as would be expected.

Also, there is a demographic trend at play here. It is true that the under 55 participation rate has dropped (which I just went over the numbers, under 55 are down from ~76% to ~74%) while over 55 is up slightly (40% to 40.4%), but that doesn’t mean demographics have no role since the size of each age group has changed. Since Obama took office the number of people 16-55 has grown 0.2% while those over 55 grew 13.8%. That means that had participation rates stayed at their Jan 2009 rates the overall rate would still have fallen to 64.4%.

In other words, demographics account for about 60% of the overall drop in the participation rate. I originally looked this up to check Erika and other conservative bloggers saying job numbers indicate no demographic effect, but found a similar result there. Given demographic changes you would expect people 25-55 to have lost about 1.1 million jobs and over 55 to have gained 3.8 million. The numbers indicate more at play but demographics are a big, though yes not only, part.

jarodea on April 8, 2013 at 9:53 AM

THE NEW NORMAL.

That is until a Republican is elected, whereupon “funemployment” will become regular unemployment and the U.S. will be officially in a depression.

mudskipper on April 8, 2013 at 9:53 AM

So far, so good — except that the Post tries to sell this as a decade-long trend:

BUSH…………

dmann on April 8, 2013 at 9:55 AM

Imagine the problems we could solve if we were permitted to bring back shaming.

Washington Nearsider on April 8, 2013 at 9:47 AM

For starters, I propose we get rid of EBT cards that hide themselves as normal credit/debit cards. Make them hot pink and about the size of a deck of cards. Make it so that the vendor has to put a special code in for authorization, requiring the check-out clerk has to call out that a manager is required on lane five for an EBT authorization.

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2013 at 9:55 AM

Cuba and Kenya,

Here we come.

acyl72 on April 8, 2013 at 9:56 AM

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2013 at 9:55 AM

+ a bazillion.

If you need it, you need it. Bad things happen to good people, and I understand. Hell, bad things have happened to me. I’ve needed help (which I got from my family) but I was MORTIFIED to be asking.

That mortification is missing, and makes it too easy to just keep right on mooching after you’ve gotten your feet back under you – assuming you were even off of them.

Washington Nearsider on April 8, 2013 at 9:59 AM

Why, when sitting on one’s arse can net a single mother $30,000 in government benefits (over $45,000 if she ships the little one off to daycare), would anybody want to work?

Steve Eggleston on April 8, 2013 at 9:39 AM

The issue is less a single mother sitting on the “arse”, since they don’t get as much and most of what they do is focused on child care and not really usable by mommy, and more the dead zone created at around $10 an hour of work. I forget the exact numbers but from something like $10 to $15-18 an hour a single mother actually loses disposable income and it’s not until they make something like $22-25 an hour that they get ahead from where they were at $10.

There are ways to fix that but most conservatives won’t stand for anything other than getting rid of all of it, which the public won’t stand for, so we will be left with the system as it is (or worse).

jarodea on April 8, 2013 at 10:01 AM

Why aren’t people working?

Reason #1: a lot of companies aren’t hiring

Reason #2: people are signing up for disability and other welfare programs at a record rate. If you can earn almost as much by sitting at home as you can by working, a lot of people will choose sitting at home.

hawksruleva on April 8, 2013 at 10:01 AM

Hey, I know! We can import some immigrants to do the jobs Americans won’t do. You know–like bricklayers, carpenters, industrial workers etc. Oh…..you mean WaPo is saying there ain’t no jobs and this is meant to fly over the heads of low info voters the fact that we are in a depression and we (WaPo) gotta protect the One. We can do it!

Herb on April 8, 2013 at 10:07 AM

Did the country blow its chance for a turnaround in November, or what? I guess we’ll all have to reap what the 52% sowed.

The thing I can’t get over is that the liberals are coming all over themselves to dole out entitlements and crony deals to fellow travelers at a time when we have no dough to do so. This isn’t the Clinton era, when we had a manageable national debt. Yet Obama seems to think we’re always just one tax increase away from prosperity. Sorry to say, there just aren’t enough wealthy people to pay Obama’s tab.

I really think the GOP should stridently start proposing policies that contrast with Obamanomics. Maybe more important, they should summarize some Treasury Department data and repeatedly remark how, if we confiscated all the estimated annual income of the top 1%, 5%, and 10%, we’d never be able to afford what Dems want.

BuckeyeSam on April 8, 2013 at 10:07 AM

I forget the exact numbers but from something like $10 to $15-18 an hour a single mother actually loses disposable income and it’s not until they make something like $22-25 an hour that they get ahead from where they were at $10.

There are ways to fix that but most conservatives won’t stand for anything other than getting rid of all of it, which the public won’t stand for, so we will be left with the system as it is (or worse).

jarodea on April 8, 2013 at 10:01 AM

Unlike Mooch, most single moms don’t have free housing, a private jet, and a staff.

Yet, the reality is somebody making $10/hour is in an entry level job. The way to “fix” that is to get marketable skills pays better than what you find with semi-skilled or no skill jobs. Yet you would have those single moms remain stuck in an entry level job with some sort of government subsidy (presumably). Why do you hate single moms?

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2013 at 10:10 AM

Oh, BFD. Every once in a while, WaPo publishes something resembling “fact” and everyone over here swoons. WaPo will STILL publish every lie out of this administration as if it were manna from heaven, and they’ll still do the Obama’s bidding, and they’ll still protect and defend them as WaPo is the “palace guard.”

We’re toast in this country….

http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=219554

mountainaires on April 8, 2013 at 10:11 AM

If you want to quickly lower the welfare participation rates, require volunteerism:

If you are collecting unemployment you should be required to volunteer 20 hours a week at a public school, library, etc.

If you are collecting food stamps you should be required to volunteer 10 hours a week at a soup kitchen if they still exist.

monalisa on April 8, 2013 at 10:12 AM

In other words, demographics account for about 60% of the overall drop in the participation rate.
jarodea on April 8, 2013 at 9:53 AM

Bah, shouldn’t do math on the fly while writing a comment and looking at an excel spreadsheet.

Demographics account for 50% of the decline in people working, or specifically the components of change are:

Demographics -1.2
Change in Participation -1.2(under 55 -1.35, over 55 +.15)

Looking at racial participation rates, there’s an effect there as well that moves a good chunk of the decline in “Change in Participation” to “Demographics”. So demographics have an even bigger role but I don’t have time to figure that one out.

Why aren’t people working?

Reason #1: a lot of companies aren’t hiring

Reason #2: people are signing up for disability and other welfare programs at a record rate. If you can earn almost as much by sitting at home as you can by working, a lot of people will choose sitting at home.

hawksruleva on April 8, 2013 at 10:01 AM

Well, Reason #1 would be changing demographics and then Reason #2 would be whatever causes (which of course there are some related to the Obama administration and democrats).

jarodea on April 8, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Unlike Mooch, most single moms don’t have free housing, a private jet, and a staff.

Yet, the reality is somebody making $10/hour is in an entry level job. The way to “fix” that is to get marketable skills pays better than what you find with semi-skilled or no skill jobs. Yet you would have those single moms remain stuck in an entry level job with some sort of government subsidy (presumably). Why do you hate single moms?

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2013 at 10:10 AM

Do tell, where in explaining the situation as is and then noting it can be fixed did you find some words saying “yes, this system rocks since I hate single mothers, leave it as is”? Yes I did note that most conservatives won’t stand for anything other than getting rid of all or most government support (I’m not saying that is what you advocate, but I’ve seen it more than enough and as we know a poor single mother can very easily get “more marketable skills”). Also yes, sadly the American public would never allow that so we’re stuck with the system as is, regardless of my dislike of it.

jarodea on April 8, 2013 at 10:21 AM

The issue is less a single mother sitting on the “arse”, since they don’t get as much and most of what they do is focused on child care and not really usable by mommy, and more the dead zone created at around $10 an hour of work. I forget the exact numbers but from something like $10 to $15-18 an hour a single mother actually loses disposable income and it’s not until they make something like $22-25 an hour that they get ahead from where they were at $10.

There are ways to fix that but most conservatives won’t stand for anything other than getting rid of all of it, which the public won’t stand for, so we will be left with the system as it is (or worse).

jarodea on April 8, 2013 at 10:01 AM

There’s actually several “welfare cliffs” (page 8) . The largest (along the horizontal axis) cliff is at about $29,000 in wages per year (at least in Pennsylvania, where a single mother who earns that that gets enough welfare to more than equal what she would take home if she had a $69,000/year job. The steepest drop is between $43,000 in wages (with a $53,000 net) and $44,000 in wages (with a $42,000 net).

As for the $0 earner, again using those Pennsylvania numbers, it’s roughly $5,000 in cash, $7,500 in food stamps (freshly decoupled from work requirements), $7,500 in housing assistance (with a pittance in energy assistance), and $8,000 in Medicaid for both mother and child.

Steve Eggleston on April 8, 2013 at 10:25 AM

“Prime-aged people are working less, and we don’t know why,” said Betsey Stevenson, a labor economist and associate professor at the University of Michigan. “I get concerned because there are a lot of people who have useful and productive skills that could really contribute to the economy, and we’re just failing to find ways to get them involved.”

This problem won’t be solved until, ‘We break through our kind of private idea that people’s useful and productive skills belong to themselves, or to their families, and recognize that those useful and productive skills belong to economy of our communities.’

Dusty on April 8, 2013 at 10:28 AM

How many children who attend college enroll in disciplines that will make them self sufficient? Look, too many sign up for fields where there is no work, because they are encouraged to do what they LIKE, what they will find entertaining, as opposed to what will get them WORK.

Reason #1: a lot of companies aren’t hiring

Reason #2: people are signing up for disability and other welfare programs at a record rate. If you can earn almost as much by sitting at home as you can by working, a lot of people will choose sitting at home.

hawksruleva on April 8, 2013 at 10:01 AM

And that too. There are a number of reasons that handouts now look more appealing than work.

dogsoldier on April 8, 2013 at 10:30 AM

Yes I did note that most conservatives won’t stand for anything other than getting rid of all or most government support

jarodea on April 8, 2013 at 10:21 AM

Most is not quantifiable and it isn’t true that the plurality of conservatives want to get rid of all government support. If you’ve got proof that most conservatives won’t stand for getting rid of all (or most) government support, then by all means cite your source.

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2013 at 10:30 AM

Correction to the above – the longest cliff is at $9,000/year in wages, where the single mom earning that gets enough in welfare to net the same $53,000 that she would if she had a $63,000/year job.

Steve Eggleston on April 8, 2013 at 10:30 AM

There’s actually several “welfare cliffs” (page 8) . The largest (along the horizontal axis) cliff is at about $29,000 in wages per year (at least in Pennsylvania, where a single mother who earns that that gets enough welfare to more than equal what she would take home if she had a $69,000/year job. The steepest drop is between $43,000 in wages (with a $53,000 net) and $44,000 in wages (with a $42,000 net).

As for the $0 earner, again using those Pennsylvania numbers, it’s roughly $5,000 in cash, $7,500 in food stamps (freshly decoupled from work requirements), $7,500 in housing assistance (with a pittance in energy assistance), and $8,000 in Medicaid for both mother and child.

Steve Eggleston on April 8, 2013 at 10:25 AM

Yeah, I was going by memory of that chart. Either way my point remains, the amount of disposable cash available is different and of course it varies by state.

My fiancées sisters in Pennsylvania are both welfare queens so I do know from them that the encouragement is to work rather than sit on their “arse”. The one lived at home, the other didn’t work and lived in government housing with the assistance you note. The one was kicked out of her parents home and got a job since she couldn’t get into government housing, then the disposable jack started rolling in ($8,000 in EITC for working an $8 hour job, that is ridiculous). The other in government housing got a job soon after seeing that.

jarodea on April 8, 2013 at 10:34 AM

The WaPo is nothing more than the democrats version of Pravda.
The media in this country is owned by the leftists.
Just as I am sure all the Soviets believed what came out of Pravda, so do the liberals in this country believe what come out of the WaPo.

redguy on April 8, 2013 at 10:41 AM

Most is not quantifiable and it isn’t true that the plurality of conservatives want to get rid of all government support. If you’ve got proof that most conservatives won’t stand for getting rid of all (or most) government support, then by all means cite your source.

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2013 at 10:30 AM

Sure, once you show me where I said I would leave the system as is and that I hate single mothers.

Ohh, heck I’ll be nice since you flopped so badly at responding to my main point, change it to the equally unquantifiable “many conservatives” and let’s go with “much of government support” to set your semantic heart at ease.

jarodea on April 8, 2013 at 10:44 AM

I have been shocked that Obama propaganda has been able to hide this from the ignorant for so long. Now I am shocked that others are now shocked by this event.

burt on April 8, 2013 at 10:55 AM

Update II: Jim Tankersey and I debated this on Twitter a few minutes ago. Kudos to him for engaging, but he’s arguing that the trend between 2000-3 is more significant than the 2009-present decline, which is simply absurd. Be sure to read our Twitter feeds (mine is here).

Or you can view the entire Ed Morrissey/Jim Tankersley debate without having to jump between two twitter accounts, by going to my tweet, which started the whole thing.

BigGator5 on April 8, 2013 at 10:55 AM

The NBER definition of a “recession” is a slow economic period during a Republican administration. Thus, it’s unpossible for a Rat President to preside over a “depression” (at least according to the NBER).

Steve Eggleston on April 8, 2013 at 9:30 AM

Yep. During the roaring economy of President George W. Bush, when millions of jobs were being created the talking heads would sniff -”yes, but they are not quality jobs.”

They felt that too many of them were in the service industry.

slickwillie2001 on April 8, 2013 at 10:57 AM

Imagine the problems we could solve if we were permitted to bring back shaming.

Washington Nearsider on April 8, 2013 at 9:47 AM

For starters, I propose we get rid of EBT cards that hide themselves as normal credit/debit cards. Make them hot pink and about the size of a deck of cards. Make it so that the vendor has to put a special code in for authorization, requiring the check-out clerk has to call out that a manager is required on lane five for an EBT authorization.

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2013 at 9:55 AM

Yep. If the list of Concealed Carry can be public information, so should the lists of those on SSDI, EBT, etc. It’s our money, we should know who it’s going to.

Let’s also have a reporting program modeled after that of the IRS so you can get a reward for turning in fraudsters.

slickwillie2001 on April 8, 2013 at 11:03 AM

This problem won’t be solved until, ‘We break through our kind of private idea that people’s useful and productive skills belong to themselves, or to their families, and recognize that those useful and productive skills belong to economy of our communities.’

Dusty on April 8, 2013 at 10:28 AM

Huh? Am I missing something? Whose quote is that?
As far as I’m concerned, my labor and its products are solely my property until I sell them. Currently, I sell my labor and its products to my employer. If my useful and productive skills aren’t my own, then I’m a slave.

Unfortunately, in many ways I’m already a slave to the state because of the national debt.

freedomfirst on April 8, 2013 at 11:11 AM

…since he started the fight in the first place. Bad Gator!

Hey, I resemble that remark! :p

BigGator5 on April 8, 2013 at 11:15 AM

Update: One commenter notes that the Post called this trend “more than a decade old,” but as the same commenter points out, that’s still a false argument. Let’s look at the trend over 34 years, since the last time we saw 63.3% participation rate:

I have an id dagnabbit. Also, if you read this, sorry about the “as in before 2003″, edited the comment a couple times and didn’t remove it. Didn’t mean to sound rude (it wasn’t pithy in the original).

jarodea on April 8, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Has anyone else noted the almost complete abscence of Obama’s name in those rare articles in the news media on the economy, those few that can be squeezed in between SSM and Gun Control??

It’s like Dear Reader went off to North Korea to mollify Fatty Whitewalls by losing the world championship of “H-O-R-S-E” to him, and didn’t come back.

Heyyyy…!!

drunyan8315 on April 8, 2013 at 11:24 AM

B-b-b-b–but that can’t be right..the unemployment rate went down last month!

Recovery Summer 5.0 ahead!

ICanSeeNovFromMyHouse on April 8, 2013 at 11:25 AM

Further, you can see the “booming above trend economy sucks in marginal workers” in the 1980′s. The late 80′s saw a large boom, participation peaked at 66.7% or so, then dropped and didn’t hit that figure again until the tech boom was away and off in 1997. That was despite demographics helping the participation rate in Clinton’s first term.

jarodea on April 8, 2013 at 11:28 AM

WaPo still backing that loser in the White House.

GarandFan on April 8, 2013 at 11:43 AM

For all the arguing about 2000-2003 vs the last four years, is anyone paying any attention that there isn’t even the slightest hint in the first chart posted above that the trend is going anywhere but further down?

Even just a levelling off at at a 34 year low would be considered some kind of victory at this point.

parke on April 8, 2013 at 11:53 AM

People….PEOPLE….
Shame on you.
Is this any way to speak of the President.
Is “rat eared wonder” a perjorative for “Lying POS, afirmative action, jugheaded nuckle dragging organ grinder monkey, Kenyan Marxist userper?
Shocked…I’m shocked at the lack of respect /s
III/0317

dirtengineer on April 8, 2013 at 11:55 AM

As for the trend the WaPo was trying to establish, it actually started with the dot-com crash in mid-2000, not the NBER-whitewash of mid-2001.

Steve Eggleston on April 8, 2013 at 12:03 PM

Huh? Am I missing something? Whose quote is that?

freedomfirst on April 8, 2013 at 11:11 AM

that is a clever cover of Melissa Harris-Perry’s take on children applied to jobs (read: income).

DanMan on April 8, 2013 at 12:03 PM

Betsy Stevenson “I get concerned because there are a lot of people who have useful and productive skills that could really contribute to the economy”.

What she really means is that there are a lot of people who could and should be working in order to transfer their income to the Democrat’s constituency. Bad serfs! No gruel for you!

Silvergoat on April 8, 2013 at 12:22 PM

[freedomfirst on April 8, 2013 at 11:11 AM]

You may have seen this by now, but go there to understand my comment a little better.

DanMan on April 8, 2013 at 12:03 PM

Thanks.

Dusty on April 8, 2013 at 12:34 PM

Dear WaPo,

I have noticed the last 4 years how you seem to have a lot of pundits, forecasters and general boot lickers that have the word ‘unexpected’ or other similar word of phrase in their look at recently released vital information on the economy. In general my cat can do better than that, so does coin tossing.

Since you are running short on subscribers and circulation is down, you might want to perk things up by getting rid of any of those said individuals who haven’t been able to get their predictions/forecasts/outlooks right a total of 3 times and fire them. Hire some panhandler off the street which will have the two fold effect of increasing the accuracy of your reports, removing proto-zombies from your workforce and cutting the bottom line cost of employment simultaneously.

It is your incapacity to deal with the actual world, to actually report truthfully on real word events and to otherwise migrate your op-ed to every page of the paper that has caused one early subscriber, namely myself, to quit getting your cat toy output of flattened paper balls that need to be wadded up. I’m not coming back, sorry to say, but you might be able to get some of your recent deserters back if you just got rid of the reporters/analysts/boot lickers who can’t bother to tell things like they are and leave the spin for the next paragraph. Sadly, all those hours in journolistim school has left your workforce unable to write stories, analyze events and even get the box scores right. Your demise, while somewhat melancholy, is richly deserved as it is self-inflicted. Only you can stop it.

Join the 21st century.

Because now you are being pushed out of the way.

Of course you can’t predict that. Look at who you have doing the analyses!

ajacksonian on April 8, 2013 at 12:38 PM

This article from 2002
Age-adjusted labor force
participation rates, 1960–2045
(pdf)
includes, on table 1, a projection of the decline in the labor force participation rate from 2005 through 2045.

2000 …………….. 67.2
2005 …………….. 66.8
2010 …………….. 65.9
2015 …………….. 64.6
2020 …………….. 63.0
2025 …………….. 61.5
2030 …………….. 60.5
2035 …………….. 60.2
2040 …………….. 60.1
2045 …………….. 60.2

agmartin on April 8, 2013 at 12:53 PM

You may have seen this by now, but go there to understand my comment a little better.

DanMan on April 8, 2013 at 12:03 PM

Thanks.

Dusty on April 8, 2013 at 12:34 PM

Thanks.
I’d heard it in passing, but didn’t make the connection. I’m pleased I restrained myself.
I appreciate your post.

freedomfirst on April 8, 2013 at 1:00 PM

So if only 63% are working and 47% of those pay no net income tax, then the country is being financed by (approx.) 34% of the workforce?

It’s a good thing there are rich people and businesses to tax. /s

TerryW on April 8, 2013 at 1:04 PM

Any chance the folks leaving the job market are the boomers who put off retirement during the crash? Their 401K’s should have recovered by now (if they bucked what they SHOULD have been doing and continued to ride the market rather than move into “safe” investments…which is why they had to put off retirement in the first place), to the point where they have their nest egg back and don’t need the aggravation of having to work anymore?

TheHitman on April 8, 2013 at 1:04 PM

For all the arguing about 2000-2003 vs the last four years, is anyone paying any attention that there isn’t even the slightest hint in the first chart posted above that the trend is going anywhere but further down?

Even just a levelling off at at a 34 year low would be considered some kind of victory at this point.

parke on April 8, 2013 at 11:53 AM

Well, until the Baby Boomers are worked through the system the participation will have a large negative drag on it which will until the 2030′s make the natural rate lower than it is now.

So if only 63% are working and 47% of those pay no net income tax, then the country is being financed by (approx.) 34% of the workforce?

It’s a good thing there are rich people and businesses to tax. /s

TerryW on April 8, 2013 at 1:04 PM

You mean adults, not workforce. 53% of the workforce pays taxes in that scenario. Having 34% of adult support society isn’t unusual, and given the time period you compare it to can be considered high. Right now, using your system, 27% of people support the other 73%, but prior to the industrial revolution the number would have been 20-25%. Before 1970 only about 33% of the population worked, not sure how you define what share financed the rest but it would have been near to today.

jarodea on April 8, 2013 at 1:45 PM

None of these statistics capture people who have stopped working in the taxable economy. I’m guessing a huge and growing number are working and doing fine, but they aren’t working in jobs that the government knows about. They are in the all-cash economy, and the barter economy. I have three such people in my own family; one has not paid a dime of income or payroll taxes in over 30 years, two other younger ones recently “dropped out of the labor force” but you can bet they are working plenty in cash jobs.

Other older adults are truly long-term unemployed in fields like construction and mortgage lending that died in the crash. Those jobs are never coming back. I also know two people who were laid off in their late 50s and are just scraping by on their savings until they turn 59 1/2 and could retire.

rockmom on April 8, 2013 at 2:00 PM

Keep voting democrat!

tom daschle concerned on April 8, 2013 at 2:05 PM

None of these statistics capture people who have stopped working in the taxable economy. I’m guessing a huge and growing number are working and doing fine, but they aren’t working in jobs that the government knows about. They are in the all-cash economy, and the barter economy. I have three such people in my own family; one has not paid a dime of income or payroll taxes in over 30 years, two other younger ones recently “dropped out of the labor force” but you can bet they are working plenty in cash jobs.

Other older adults are truly long-term unemployed in fields like construction and mortgage lending that died in the crash. Those jobs are never coming back. I also know two people who were laid off in their late 50s and are just scraping by on their savings until they turn 59 1/2 and could retire.

rockmom on April 8, 2013 at 2:00 PM

There is definitely way more going on here, there’s demographics, this policy/that policy, growth in part-time/temp work vs full-time, and yes also the growth of the shadow economy which used to be near non-existent in the US.

Nevertheless, it’s not so simple as to say these numbers don’t include the shadow economy. The numbers are from the household survey where people are simply asked if they are working or not. Whether or not the 2 people in your family who “dropped out of the labor force” are counted or not depends entirely on if they tell a surveyor that they are working or not. The surveyor has no clue if they are telling the truth, or working in the shadow economy. It only matters how they answer.

Now I agree that someone in the shadow economy is more likely to tell a surveyor they are not working, but some percentage will which means these numbers are not entirely missing them.

jarodea on April 8, 2013 at 2:27 PM

Maybe the 11 million illegal aliens killed them?

profitsbeard on April 8, 2013 at 2:42 PM

So Obama has pretty much rolled back all the economic progress the Reagan administration produced, and all the anti-terrorism progress Bush produced, and brought us back to the economics and middle-east policies of Carter, plus a nuclear Iran, a threatening nuclear Korea, and Europe on the edge of economic collapse.

I predicted Obama would be worse than Carter 8 months before his election, but I have to admit that he has exceeded my expectations.

Socratease on April 8, 2013 at 2:48 PM

There is definitely way more going on here, there’s demographics, this policy/that policy, growth in part-time/temp work vs full-time, and yes also the growth of the shadow economy which used to be near non-existent in the US.

jarodea on April 8, 2013 at 2:27 PM

You keep using the word demographics as if that’s something specific that’s causing all of this trouble. Do you know what the word means?
“Demographics” is not a specific thing that causes a change, demographics are statistics that measure certain factors of a population.
If you’re going to use that term, you really need to be more specific about WHICH statistics regarding the population are changing and in what directions and why.

dentarthurdent on April 8, 2013 at 3:04 PM

The thing about the last chart that strikes me is not the recent decline, but rather the rapid growth during the Reagan years. Just look at 1980-1988!

Now, Obama is destroying all of that growth.

I see a whole series of ads stating, “The Democrats want to ROLL BACK THE CLOCK! They want to go back to the days of Jimmy Carter – the unemployment, the stagflation, the long gas lines. Next thing you know, they’ll want the black to be hauling their luggage just like the good old days!” Or, maybe that was just Bill Clinton.

JohnD13 on April 8, 2013 at 5:14 PM

You mean adults, not workforce. 53% of the workforce pays taxes in that scenario. Having 34% of adult support society isn’t unusual, and given the time period you compare it to can be considered high. Right now, using your system, 27% of people support the other 73%, but prior to the industrial revolution the number would have been 20-25%. Before 1970 only about 33% of the population worked, not sure how you define what share financed the rest but it would have been near to today.

jarodea on April 8, 2013 at 1:45 PM

Historically, government took a whole lot smaller percentage of the economic fruits than it does now, with family sizes a whole lot larger than now. Both facts allowed for a lower percentage of the populace to work back then.

Steve Eggleston on April 8, 2013 at 7:35 PM

What’s everyone bitching about? We’ve got food stamps. We’ve got free phones. Sandra Fluke doesn’t have to crack her wallet to cover any complications from sleeping around. Isn’t this what we voted for???

tpitman on April 8, 2013 at 7:48 PM

You keep using the word demographics as if that’s something specific that’s causing all of this trouble. Do you know what the word means?
“Demographics” is not a specific thing that causes a change, demographics are statistics that measure certain factors of a population.
If you’re going to use that term, you really need to be more specific about WHICH statistics regarding the population are changing and in what directions and why.

dentarthurdent on April 8, 2013 at 3:04 PM

Reread my posts, I am very clear about what factors to which I am referring.

Historically, government took a whole lot smaller percentage of the economic fruits than it does now, with family sizes a whole lot larger than now. Both facts allowed for a lower percentage of the populace to work back then.

Steve Eggleston on April 8, 2013 at 7:35 PM

Of course, there was also less income, particularly the taxable sort, back then. Even so, having around 1/3 of the workforce support the rest, whether through government or their own initiative, is nothing new. There is also much much more going on here, income taxes are not how all levels of government support themselves for instance. I was mainly pointing out the use of the wrong population group and also that throwing out a percentage like that is not by itself bad.

jarodea on April 8, 2013 at 9:45 PM