The Labor Force Keeps Shrinking and Shrinking

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SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 04:  Job seekers go through an orientation before meeting with recruiters at the Catalyst Career Group job fair on August 4, 2011 in South San Francisco, California.  The Employment Situation report for July, 2011 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is scheduled to be released tomorrow.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Photo: Justin Sullivan/2011 Getty Images

The jobs report for June was released today, and it shows that the unemployment rate is now 5.3 percent — the lowest it has been since 2008. The economy also added 223,000 jobs. However, the reason the unemployment rate keeps dropping isn’t so sunny: The number of people in the workforce — 62.9 percent participation rate — is the lowest it’s been since October 1977; teenagers seem to be having a particularly difficult time finding jobs. Once you give up looking for a job, you stop counting as unemployed in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ eyes. Another disappointing data point: Wages still aren’t increasing, which means that while jobs keep getting added, they might not be the kind that make Americans feel like the economy is improving.