GREEN BAY - The nation's unemployment rate is dropping, but many economists say it's not means for celebration.
The jobless rate in August was 7.3 percent. It was down a tenth of a percentage point from July. The rate is now at a four and a half year low.
Many people, however, stopped working or even looking for a job.
Let's take a closer look at the numbers for a clearer picture of the nation's jobs market.
Employers added 169,000 jobs last month. That is below the average monthly gain this year, which is 180,000.
Competition for jobs is still fierce.
There are three unemployed people on average competing for every job opening. Compare that to 1.8 percent when the recession began in 2007.
While many fight for jobs, others are giving up. More than 300,000 people stopped working or looking for a job last month.
That puts the so-called "labor force participation rate" at 63.2 percent. It's the lowest participation rate since 1978.
We wanted to know why it is so low.
From the crisis in Syria to nation's fiscal uncertainty, labor experts say there are a variety of factors causing this so-called labor participation shortage.
“With a lot of concern in financial markets, regarding the question of whether the Feds will continue its stimulus program, these are all things that even through they may not directly affect employers, they're things they're keeping aware of,” said Jeff Sachse, DWD economist.
However, Sachse says a lot of the drop has to do with baby boomer retirements.
“Statewide we have been observing a gradual decline in the state participation rate for the last three years. It did recover after the recession, but it's slowly declining again and a lot of that is being fueled by the fact that our population is aging more rapidly than the share of individuals that are entering for the first time into the workforce,” he said.
Experts say a seasonal shift with students heading back to school also plays a role.
Other analysts feel people are so discouraged by the job market, they've given up.
Experts expect the labor participation rate to go back up eventually.
However, they don't expect the rate reach the high points we've seen in years past.
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