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Americans outside labor force growing twice as fast as population

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Betsi Fores
The Daily Caller News Foundation

The unemployment rate may be down, but so is the number of Americans participating in the work force.

The Senate Budget Committee released a graph Friday comparing the growth in population to the labor force.

“The labor force statistic is an interesting indicator to look at since it provides information about how people view their prospects in the labor market,” said American Enterprise Institute economist Aparna Mathur to The Daily Caller News Foundation in an email.

While the population has grown at a rate of 2.2 percent over the last two years, the population not in the labor force has grown more than double that, at a rate of 4.58 percent. The growth in the labor force was an anemic 0.88 percent, according to the graph.

“The level at which it [the labor force participation] is right now seems to be the lowest in 30 years,” Mathur continued. “Where it gets reflected is in the U-6 rate. That is currently at 14.7 percent, nearly double the official unemployment rate.”

“So that shows that  there are at least another 10-11 million people who are either too discouraged to look for work or working part-time because they can’t find full-time jobs.”

The impact on federal revenues is unclear.

“What this means for tax revenues is that clearly with such few people working and earning, revenue collections are likely to go down from these income groups,” Mathur said. “But on the whole, if incomes at the top are less affected, the net impact might be minimal. Also remember that a big chunk of the population does not pay federal incomes taxes.”

CNBC contributor Rick Santelli slammed the unemployment data Tuesday morning on “Squawk Box.”

“The current trend of these [jobs] numbers is so different from the current trend of any other numbers,” he said in a heated debate. “If you were looking for conspiracies — and I’m not — you only need to change a certain number.”
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