Heritage Expert: Decline in Labor Force Participation Bad Sign for U.S. Economy, Working Americans

Heritage Expert: Decline in Labor Force Participation Bad Sign for U.S. Economy, Working Americans

Dec 2, 2022 2 min read

WASHINGTON—According to new numbers released on Friday, the economy added 263,000 jobs in November, the unemployment rate held steady at 3.7%, and the labor force participation rate continued to decline, down to 62.1%.  

Despite the headline job gains and steady unemployment rate, the report showed a troubling decline in labor force participation and employment. Over the past two months, the number of people who are working fell by 466,000 and the labor force participation rate has declined for three straight months.   

Rachel Greszler, Heritage Foundation research fellow in economics, budget, and entitlements, released the following statement in response to the numbers: 

“While job openings edged down to 10.3 million in October, there are still far more jobs available than there are workers looking for jobs. If the employment-to-population ratio were the same today as in February 2020, before COVID, 3.5 million more people would be employed.  


“The combination of the weak economy and millions of individuals remaining incentivized to not work are bad signs of the economic consequences to come. Recession job losses on top of already-low employment levels would exacerbate supply chain issues, the decline in output, reduce real incomes, cause greater dependence on government social programs, require higher levels of taxation, and push the U.S. precariously close to a debt crisis. 


“Already, COVID-19 related responses like bonus unemployment insurance benefits, paused student loan repayments, and other welfare-without-work benefits have led to a drastic decline in work among young Americans, with the employment of 20–24-year-olds down 3.9% since before the pandemic. And now, employment could drop further without having ever fully recovered.  


“Just as job options are declining, the Biden administration has proposed two rules that will making it harder for people to choose flexible work options like independent contracting, and harder for people to own and operate start small businesses that provide millions of jobs. The next Congress must block these rules and immediately work to implement policies that incentivize work and get our economy rolling again.”