On Friday, Americans woke up to the news that the labor market in April 2012 continued its plodding path of mediocrity. A mere 115,000 jobs were added and the unemployment rate remained above 8 percent. But one of the most troubling indicators of the economy’s poor climate is the declining labor force participation rate — that is, the number of people actively employed or seeking employment.
As this infographic shows, that rate dropped from 63.8 percent to 63.6 percent, the lowest level since December 1981.
In a new paper, Heritage’s Rea Hederman, Jr. and James Sherk explain the underlying statistics:
Adult men accounted for all of the decline as their participation rate fell from 73.3 percent to 72.9 percent, a new all-time low. The participation rate of adult women was unchanged at 59.3 percent. As a result, the unemployment rate of adult men declined from 7.6 percent to 7.5 percent, while the unemployment rate for adult women was constant at 7.5 percent.
Read more in Heritage Employment Report: Jobs Do Not Bloom in April.