Fewer than two-thirds of Americans are working or looking for work, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. The labor force participation rate last month was 62.7 percent, as low as it’s been since the Carter administration.
“This is a measure of everybody who could be in the work force, who is in the work force, and the fact that it’s so low says that there remains a sizable chunk of the labor force that simply isn’t working or looking for work,” The Wall Street Journal explains.
The BLS says the American economy added 126,000 jobs in March, far fewer than the 243,000 that had been forecast. “It’s definitely a disappointing report,” Jeffrey MacDonald, Director of Fixed Income Strategy at Fiduciary Trust Company International, tells USA Today. “It really was under any estimate you could find.”
In addition, BLS revised its job growth numbers from January and February downward by some 69,000. The unemployment rate remained at 5.5 percent.
Stock markets are closed for Good Friday, but futures trading plunged on the weak economic news.
Economists at the Atlanta Federal Reserve aren’t surprised. They just dropped their growth forecast for the first quarter to zero, down from the 1.9 percent growth they had been predicting. Despite lower gasoline prices, consumers simply aren’t buying, the Atlanta Fed explains.