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‘The Great Shift’: Americans Not Working

New York Times (08/27/13) David Leonhardt

Experts attribute much of the decline in the unemployment rate to a decrease in the number of people in the labor force. A new report from the staffing firm Express Employment Professionals indicates that the labor force participation rate peaked more than 10 years ago. Experts are concerned about this decline because only a small portion of it can be attributed to baby-boomer retirements.

The skills gap may be partly responsible, but economists also cite weak economic growth during the last 13 years, including the 2000-01 dot-com bust, the 2007 financial crisis, and the lackluster recovery since. An increase in workers on disability also may be playing a role.