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The grim labor force participation rate graph.

This is the rock that the Obama administration’s ship of state is going to founder on:

labor-participation-rate

(Data via the Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

The graph shows the labor force participation rate for the last four years. The short version is that the LFP rate shows the percentage of the population that could be working that is actually working. And as you can see, that number was remarkably stable under Bush’s term. The rate more or less stayed around 66% from calendar year 2002 to 2008… and it dropped significantly in calendar year 2009. Now, some people would argue that this is not Obama’s fault… just like they would argue that it was not Obama’s fault that the rate dropped equally significantly in calendar year 2010, and dropped equally significantly in calendar year 2011, and dropped equally significantly in calendar year 2012 (that year’s average was 63.7%). The LFP rate for December 2012 itself was 63.6%, which as CNS helpfully notes is significant, in its way: “the labor force participation rate had not been as low as 63.6 percent since 1981, the year President Ronald Reagan took over from President Jimmy Carter.”

So, basically, based on this detail and others we seem to have all signed up for a grand thought experiment: What would have happened to the USA in 1981 if Jimmy Carter had actually won reelection? The bad news is, we can’t actually opt out of said grand thought experiment. The good news is that the system really is designed to survive the occasional fumbled-fingered idiot running it. If we managed to make it through James Buchanan and Woodrow Wilson, we’ll make it through this.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: I understand that the Left absolutely hates it when it’s pointed out that we’ve been steadily losing workers to despondency for the last four years. Bless their hearts, but can you blame them for trying to push back on this inconvenient truth? – The ironic bit is, of course, that progressives should be the ones screaming the loudest at Obama to get the real unemployment rate back down. You can’t run all of those government programs without tax money; and nobody smart actually thinks that you can get it all off of the ‘rich’…

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