The participation rate in the labor force declined one-fifth of a percentage point to 62.8% in December, matching October’s level, which was the lowest since 1978.
The participation rate is a broad gauge of the labor-market health, showing the workforce’s share of the civilian noninstitutional population. Falling rates means that people are increasingly less likely be in the labor force — not a great sign of economic strength or confidence.From the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
The U.S. Payroll to Population employment rate (P2P), as measured by Gallup, fell to 42.9% in December, from 43.7% in November. The current rate is the lowest Gallup has measured since March 2011.
Gallup's P2P metric estimates the percentage of the U.S. adult population aged 18 and older that is employed full time by an employer for at least 30 hours per week. P2P is not seasonally adjusted. However, because of seasonal fluctuations, year-over-year comparisons are often helpful in evaluating whether monthly changes are attributable to seasonal hiring patterns or true growth (or deterioration) in the percentage of people working full time for an employer. The P2P rate for December 2013 is down from 44.4% in December 2012 and 43.8% in December 2011, but is higher than the 42.4% of December 2010.
The most recent results are based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews with approximately 26,000 Americans, conducted Dec. 1-29 by landline and cellphone. Gallup does not count adults who are self-employed, working part time, unemployed, or out of the workforce as payroll-employed in the P2P metric.