Originally Published: October 16, 2016 5:55 a.m.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Economic Situation Report on Friday with special attention paid to an increase in labor force participation rate. In September of 2015, that participation rate was at 62.4 percent which has increased a year later to 62.9 percent. President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers notes that this may be due to increasing economic activity which has created enough demand for people, such as retirees, to re-enter the labor force. Other factors, however, still persist. As wages remain stagnant, or decreasing in some occupations, and cost of living has continued to inflate, as evidenced by the rebounding price of housing and energy, some of these workers may have re-entered the workforce because they have resigned themselves to the state of wages and need to work.
In a similar vein to increased participation rate, those marginally attached to the labor force decreased from 1.921 million in September 2015 to 1.844 million in September 2016. The marginally attached are individuals who were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. Of the decrease, 11,000 men were added to the marginally attached, while 89,000 women left the marginally attached and found full-time employment. This may reflect the issue of stagnant wages and rampant underemployment.
In a recent study out of Council of Economic Advisers found that 88.3% of men 25 to 54 years old are in the workforce. The council said 83% of men in the prime working ages who were not in the labor force had not worked in the previous year. These statistics essential say that 10 million men are missing from the workforce, which may pose a big problem to the economic vitality of the nation in coming years. The council stated that these missing men may have found issues with employment since the recession due to traditional roles as physical laborers and the impact of globalization, automation, and technology. Additional factors such as adequate workforce training, increasing counts of men on disability, and felony convictions (approximately 1 out of every 8 adult men has got a felony conviction) may be impacting the fall out of prime-aged men in the workplace.
These statistics make one thing clear, there is still more work to do with national, state, and local economies in order to secure a sustainable future for current and future generations.
Alexandria M. Wright is director of the Yavapai College Regional Economic Development Center, which provides analysis and services that facilitate economic development throughout Yavapai County and build wealth in our local communities.