'The U.S. unemployment rate is down, but that is because many Americans have given up looking for a job.
Dean Baker, an economist with the Center for Economic Policy Research in Washington, said Friday that the decline in U.S. labor force participation in this recent data release was "striking."
The unemployment rate has dropped more than 40% of the way back to its pre-recession level, but the employment-to-population ratio is closer to its trough than its pre-recession peak. In English: less Americans are looking for employment.
While women have fared better than men in the job market, this is mostly because they did not take the same hit to employment at the start of the downturn in late 2008 early 2009, Baker said today.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported unemployment fell to 7.7% from 7.9%, but the drop was at least partially attributable to a decline in labor force participation, Baker says. The employment-to-population ratio (EPOP) was unchanged at 58.6 percent, exactly the same as the rate in February of 2012 and just 0.4 percentage points above the low hit in the summer of 2011.'