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The Alarming Employment Trends that the Jobs Report Won’t Tell You

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Ryan Nunn

Assistant Vice President for Applied Research in Community Development - Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

The US economy has experienced growth for about a decade. Yet the share of the population that is employed or seeking work has trended down for the last two decades. Many regions within the United States have an alarmingly high percentage of people who are not employed or actively looking for a job. We find this to be troubling, since the labor force participation rate serves as a fundamental marker of the economy’s performance. Increasing participation in the labor force can play a critical role in raising living standards of the country overall.

In a new study published by The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution, we found that some of the decline in labor force participation can be attributed to either the aging population heading toward retirement or young people who are increasingly at school rather than work. However, we are more concerned with the low levels of participation…

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