Emails (excerpted), Luis Bernardo Torres, research economist, Real Estate Center, Mays Business School, Texas A&M University, College Station, Sept. 27 and 30, 2013

12:53 pm

Yes, the decline in the participation rate has been declining before the Great Recession  for both women and men. Yes, structural factors are involved like demographics, but also cyclical factors have contributed the slow recovery.  When looking at the BLS information on discouraged workers yes it has dropped also the number of people marginally attached to the labor force.  There was a jump in June, but after that is started to decline. But overall for the year the level its lower when compared with the previous two years.



This I believe gives you  a better idea,


The recent recession was unusual in its depth and its duration. Labor market conditions have remained difficult for a long time. As a result, large numbers of discouraged workers have stopped looking for jobs. A big unknown is whether these workers will stay out of the labor force permanently or enter as the economy recovers. If these workers join the labor force, increasing participation could have a major impact on the unemployment rate in the coming years.


Probably increasing the labor participation rate.


 In August, 2.3 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, down by 219,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.


Among the marginally attached, there were 866,000 discouraged workers in August, essentially

unchanged from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.5 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in August had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities. (See table A-16.)


PhD Luis Bernardo Torres

Research Economist

Real Estate Center

Mays Business School

Texas A&M University

1:31 pm

A drop in the labor force participation rate does not mean necessarily that less people are looking for work. Because some of retired, married, gone back to school, etc. That’s why you have discouraged worker data, that it has fallen it is showing that more people are actually looking for work that where out of the labor force and are coming back to the labor force and will be counted as unemployed.