Employment data can be misleading

Monday was our national Labor Day holiday is an occasion on which many hard-working Americans get a day off and, perhaps, reflect on what we contribute to the economy. If you had a day off, we hope it was enjoyable and offered a summer is fleeing chance to spend some time with family members and friends. If you had to work, we appreciate that. Not everybody gets holidays — of weekends for that matter — off.

Trouble is, the percentage of us supporting what Labor Day represents is dropping, despite what the government’s unemployment rate reports may have you believe.

It is true that the most recent unemployment rate, 4.4 percent for the nation, is a vast improvement over the depths of the Great Recession, when the number was 9.5 percent.

But a more realistic figure is the labor force participation rate — the percentage of adults able to work who actually do have jobs.

Ten years ago, 65.8 percent of working-age, able-bodied Americans had jobs. By this August, the percentage had plummeted to 62.9.

In other words, fewer of us work to support more who do not. That is an unsustainable trend. Reversing it needs to be among the nation’s top priorities.

COMMENTS