The Outlook: A healthier U.S. economy hasn’t done much to resuscitate the labor-force participation rate, which has been falling for demographic and other reasons, but policy makers disagree over how to change the trajectory.
Wall Street Journal staffer Ben Leubsdorf notes that the predicament, which has implications for the capacity of the economy to fully recover and thrive, involves a tug-of-war between two forces: the business cycle vs. the aging cycle. The debate may find itself at the center of Federal Reserve interest rate policy as well as the crossfire hurricane among candidates running for national office. Leubsdorf writes:
Loud voices on both the left and the right argue the unemployment rate tells a too-optimistic story about the recovery because the Labor Department’s definition of an unemployed worker doesn’t include someone who gave up on a job search and took early retirement, applied for disability benefits, enrolled in school or otherwise left the workforce.
Read our lips.