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Job Growth Is Sluggish, Raising Fears of Malaise

New York Times (09/05/14) Nelson D. Schwartz

An increasing number of Americans has given up on finding a job. Although the unemployment rate fell to 6.1% last month, much of that decrease is due to workers dropping out of the labor force. The pace of job creation also slowed last month, although August tends to be unpredictable in terms of job data.

The labor force participation rate fell to 62.8% in August, the lowest level since the 1970s, due only in part to retiring Baby Boomers. Younger people in the 25-to-54 age range also are leaving the labor force. Participation for this group has fallen from 93% to 88.8% over the last seven years.

Attracting workers back to the workforce is not easy, says Robert A. Funk, chief executive officer of Express Employment Professionals. In August, the company contacted 5,000 people in its files who had sought employment in the past. Only 267 said they wanted to work again. “A lot of people have lost hope because they don’t think the jobs are available,” Funk says. “We’re going back and trying to encourage people to take temporary positions, but some do prefer to stick with government benefits.”