The month of February tied December’s record number of Americans not participating in the workforce, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
According to the BLS, last month 92,898,000 Americans ages 16 and over were neither employed nor had made “specific efforts to find employment sometime during the 4-week period ending with the reference week.”
The number of people out of the workforce increased by 354,000 last month and the labor force participation rate dipped slightly to 62.8 percent.
While participation in the workforce declined — due to varying factors from potentially discouraged workers to baby boomers hitting retirement age — the BLS said the economy added 295,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate was 5.5 percent, down from 5.7 percent in January.
The White House boasted about the jobs gains but noted that more needs to be done to increase middle class wages.
“With another strong employment report, we have now seen twelve straight months of private-sector job gains above 200,000—the first time that has happened since 1977,” Jason Furman, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said in a statement. “Moreover, 2014 was the best year for job growth since the late 1990s and 2015 has continued at this pace. But additional steps are needed to continue strengthening wages for the middle class.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) used the jobs report as an opportunity to promote the recently vetoed Keystone pipeline and criticize Obama’s proposal to tax 529 college savings plans. He argued that the middle class has been “left behind by the president’s policies.”
“Simply put, most Americans aren’t seeing the positive economic news translate into improvements in their daily lives,” Boehner said in a statement.