The unemployment rate may have ticked back up to 7.3
percent, partially reflecting furloughed federal workers, but
more concerning is that the share of the population actively
looking for work dropped to Carter-era levels. That’s right, the
participation rate in October was down to 62.8 percent, a rate
that hasn’t been seen since March of 1978.
I doubt that anybody has a full explanation as to why
labor participation is on such an impressive downward streak,
reflecting Americans effectively dropping out of the workforce.
Boomers (PDF) have been fingered as a contributing factor, but
some research shows the old hippies hanging on to their jobs by
their fingernails, even as younger workers disproportionately drop
out. A Cato Institute
study released in August suggests that, with the weak job
market, some efforts to cushion the blow of the lousy economy are
actually counter-productive because “The current welfare system
provides such a high level of benefits that it acts as a
disincentive for work.” Taking benefits may be a tad more
attractive than trying to assemble a couple of
part-time gigs into a living.
Whatever the explanation, welcome back, Carter.
from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/12/welcome-back-carter-labor-participation