Obama’s Economic Recovery Sinks Labor Participation To 35-Year Low

This AP photo was run by the NY Times and other media outlets to illustrate the jobs report. This long line of job seekers are not in fact trying to get a paying job, an increasingly rare thing these days, but were hoping to snag an unpaid internship. Many workers are thrilled to work for nothing these days—that is the extent to which the capitalists have broken the American worker. Government of course has aided and abetted the crime against labor, seeking to reward the capitalists at every turn while cutting social supports and refusing to spend much-needed stimulus money to encourage PAYING job growth.
The Labor Department’s jobs report yesterday had a figure that, depending on how you look at things, was very concerning.

While 204 thousand jobs were added in October, and the unemployment rate remains at 7.3 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported:

“The civilian labor force was down by 720,000 in October. The labor force participation rate fell by 0.4 percentage point to 62.8 percent over the month.”

The labor force participation rate (LFPR) is a “percent of the civilian noninstitutional population.” And the current rate, at 62.8 percent, is lower than at any time since January, 1978.

Exactly what this means, and whether it is an especially bad thing, or nothing much to worry about, depends on how you look at things. The LFPR has varied over time, but it increased for a very long period, culminating in extremely high levels during the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s.

When that bubble burst, so did the increase in the LFPR, rising only briefly during the housing bubble, which of course led to the world-wide Great Recession. The LFPR has been steadily dropping since 2008, and nothing Barack Obama has done has changed that.

Some people argue this is all just about demographics, and that Baby Boomers are pouring out of the economy now, so there is nothing strange about a dropping LFPR. But on the other hand, many Baby Boomers are pouring out of the economy unwillingly, because they are too old now to be competitive job seekers. So, why is that dismissed as a mere statistical technicality?

Further, as an AP photo, run by the NY Times and other outlets indicates, many jobs that younger workers are fighting over are unpaid internships—in other words, jobs that pay nothing to the workers. Exactly how that is a benefit to the economy is not clear, except that capitalists now claim a new privilege: they expect many people to work for nothing and to not feel abused, but rather grateful.

Unfortunately, given the wretched circumstances in which so many young people now find themselves, they are increasingly willing to take jobs that pay nothing just to make themselves feel better. And that is a big reason older workers are even more uncompetitive than they would normally be, because older workers are neither by nature nor life experience inclined to stupidly give away their labor for free, nor can they afford to do so.

And so they are being shuffled off to retirement or homelessness even faster than might otherwise be the case.

The transformation of the American labor force into an unpaid, or at best low-paid, herd of idiot sheep, is a tragedy that is being enabled because capitalists are never contradicted (much less regulated or jailed) in their crimes against the American people, and the world, and because years of fears have eroded the dignity of American labor.

Now people fight each other to obtain not even crumbs—but the promise of crumbs to come.

The Sinicization of the American worker is almost complete.