I have often wondered what the unemployment number meant in the larger context. That we have an unemployment rate of x.y% is only relevant in that it is stating that of 100 people looking for employment, x.y are unable to find a job.
But how many people are looking for work? Those who are NOT looking, why are they not looking?
Today on my drive in the afternoon I heard on the Marketplace show on NPR for the very first time the term “Participation Rate”. Soon as I heard the term I knew what it meant and also that finally I found the answer that I have been searching for.
Without paying really close attention it looks like between ’48 and ’69 this was stayed between 58% and 60% and then it kept rising pretty gradually till about ’90 when it reached around 65%. It stayed around 65%~68% thru ’08 and kept falling till about ’13 and then settled around 62~63% since.
BTW, something to keep in mind is that this is a “rate” and it only counts civilians over 16 years. Not sure if they take into account people with disabilities or new mothers or individuals older than 16 and going to school.