Behind The Mic With Joe Mathieu: The Incredible Shrinking Labor Market

By Joe Mathieu, WBZ NewsRadio 1030

BOSTON (CBS) – It’s a day of rest for many workers around the country. And even as I write this at work, I am not complaining.

It seems few people who are employed complain about the job market because most of us feel lucky to have a job. And when you look under the hood and examine what’s really happening in our labor market it’s no wonder why.

We hear headlines each month about the unemployment rate and the number of new jobs created. The next update comes Friday. But there’s a different number I’m concerned with. It’s the number of people who are looking for a job. Unemployed but trying to get hired.

It’s a critical group of people and it’s growing ever smaller.

Consider this. The number of people in the labor force – either employed or looking to be employed – fell this year to the lowest level since “My Sharona” was a hit.

That would be 1979.

We keep hearing that people are dropping out of the job market because they are so frustrated with their prospects. And that part should not be news. How many times have you talked with someone looking for work and they can’t even get a call back? It’s demoralizing and some people just give up.

Those who have given up are not counted in the Labor Department survey.

Now many are asking, is this the new normal?

At least one respected voice from the financial world says yes. The firm Macroeconomic Advisors blames an aging population and the growing popularity of federal disability benefits.

Others blame the fact that so many new positions created this year are part-time burger flipping jobs.

Something to think about when you flip your own burger on this Labor Day.

Follow Joe on Twitter @joemathieuwbz

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