The number of Americans who have a job or are looking for one, known officially as the labor force “participation rate,” is at a 34-year low, but economists say even that dismal statistic does not capture the bleakness of the U.S. jobs picture.
One million fewer Americans a month are quitting their jobs to seek better opportunities than they did during the years leading up to the recession, economist and author John Lott explains. During tough times, it makes sense that Americans would hold tightly to their present positions.
Moreover, moderate increases in the quit rate can signal economic confidence as Americans leave jobs for better ones. However, were the “quit rate” not so unusually low, the labor force participation rate would be even worse.
“Hiring is supposed to increase during recoveries, not fall below the horrible level during the recession. The only reason that we are even slowly gaining any jobs is because the number of people too afraid to quit their current jobs and look for new ones is unusually large,” said John Lott in an interview with Breitbart News.
He says the average quit rate over the last three months is still 7% below the rate during the recession.
Lott added: “Quits aren’t supposed to fall during a recovery… people appear to be even more worried about being able to get a new job during this recovery than they were during the recession.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 37% of the unemployed have been jobless for 27 weeks or more.
Today, nearly 90 million people are no longer in the U.S. workforce.