Right Hooks

Are American Workers Afraid to Look for New Jobs?

It's not a worker's market, and who knows when it will become one.

Dan Gilmore · Mar. 4, 2016

Finally, the labor force participation rate in this nation is rising. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ February jobs report, the nation added 242,000 jobs, the headline unemployment rate stayed a low 4.9%, and the percentage of Americans entering the work force rose to 62.9%. For the new normal, this is a good report. But that’s a low bar.

Ever after the great recession, the nation’s gross domestic product has grown slowly — less than 3% growth for a record 10 years running. And this jobs report is another indication that the economy just ain’t what it used to be. The Wall Street Journal predicted the U.S. economy would add 200,000 jobs in February. The economists have low expectations and when the numbers exceed them, it’s considered good news.

The numbers in the jobs report suggest Americans feel apprehension about the economy, that they are trapped in whatever job they have. The average workweek declined to 34.4 hours, and the average worker made $25.35 an hour — a decline of three cents. Still, more jobs were added. It’s not a worker’s market, and who knows when it will become one.

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