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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

March Jobs Report Reveals Lagging Labor Market

Lauren Madow |
April 5, 2013 | 9:03 a.m. PDT

Executive Producer

Some long-term unemployed workers are fed up (David Shankbone)
Some long-term unemployed workers are fed up (David Shankbone)
The US Labor Department's latest report shows that the percentage of Americans in the workforce has dropped to its lowest rate since 1979, Politico reported.

The economy added 88,000 jobs in March, down from 236,000 in February. Economists had been anticipating a March number closer to 190,000.

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Though the unemployment rate dropped from 8.2% to 7.6%, this apparently positive development is in fact due to a drop in the number of Americans who consider themselves to be a part of the labor force, which means that they have stopped seeking employment. 

Growing numbers of young adults and people over 50 have opted out of the workforce. "I don't think they're more lazy," Heidi Shierholz, a labor economist at the liberal think tank Economic Policy Institute told CNN about the younger unemployed, "It's that there are less opportunities for them. They have it rough."

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Long-term unemployed workers are defined as having been without work for 27 weeks or more. Economists describe a situation in which a temporary, cyclical problem of being without work lasts long enough that it becomes a structural problem, said Adam Davidson of NPR's Planet Money. If the change is structural, "the economy has fundamentally changed..there is a complete mismatch between the kinds of jobs people are trained to do and the kinds of jobs employers want to hire them for," said Davidson.

For more analysis of the March jobs report, see the Wall Street Journal.

For an explanation in chart form, see the Washington Post.

For more Neon Tommy reporting on economics, go here.

Reach Executive Producer Lauren Madow here. Follow her here.



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