Labor force participation rate signals massive job loss

May 1, 2020

Forrester is out of work and has no income. But he wouldn’t be counted as “unemployed” by the Labor Department because he’s not “actively looking for work.”

He had a job lined up with the Census Bureau, but it’s been put on hold.

“There’s really not a lot of jobs out there available right now. That’s what I’ve been doing — just basically cooling my heels,” Forrester said.

So what’s a better measure of unemployment? Bill Rodgers, a former chief economist at the Labor Department who currently teaches at Rutgers University, suggests the “labor force participation rate.”

“It’s the share of the civilian [noninstitutional] population that is either working, or they say that they’re actually searching for a job,” Rodgers explained.

Marketwatch.org, April 30, 2020

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