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Job Market’s Vanishing Act

Wall Street Journal (05/17/12) David Wessel

Over the past two years the number of people older than 16 who could be working has risen by 5.4 million people, but the number of people working or looking for work has not risen. Economists say approximately 50% of the decline in the work force participation rate can be attributed to people aging out of the job market and the prerecession tendency of teenagers to stay out of the job market. However, other workers—disheartened by fruitless job searches—may be turning to disability benefits or early retirement. The trend suggests that the 8.1% jobless rate may be inaccurate, and that the actual jobless rate is higher.