Home > Free Market > Obama outpacing Bush at reducing labor participation rate

Obama outpacing Bush at reducing labor participation rate

November 16, 2013

In the last few weeks I’ve heard President Obama say many times his policies are helping the economy. Most of this seems to revolve around jobs added to the economy or decreases in unemployment. But those numbers are only part of the story. So I decided to go the US Department of Labor and look at the labor participation rate. Here is the civilian labor participation rate from January 1948 to October 2013.


Civilian Labor Participation Rate 1948-2013 – Source US Dept of Labor

There is definitely a huge decrease in the labor participation rate for the last decade. The October 2013 rate is 62.8%; that low of a rate hasn’t been seen since March of 1978. Hopefully this doesn’t send our culture back into thinking bell-bottoms are cool; I don’t think anyone wants that! The peak participation rate of 67.3 went from Jan 2000 to April 2000. That was towards the end of the Clinton era.

Here is the civilian labor participation rate from 2000 to 2013.


Civilian Labor Participation Rate 2000-2013 – Source US Dept of Labor

Since Clinton left office there had been a slow but steady decline throughout the Bush years. I often hear it said that Obama is ‘cleaning up after the mess left by Bush’. It is hard to argue with the fact Bush left the economy in a mess. Yet looking at the steeper decline from 2009 until now in 2013 it can hardly be said Obama is “cleaning up’. Actually Obama seems to be pushing participants out of the labor market at a much faster rate than Bush was ever able to achieve.

Does that mean Obama is worse for the economy than Bush? I don’t think so. Both Bush and Obama have shown a love for big government intervention and disregard for markets. Obama has a slight edge over Bush in that he can destroy the economy quicker. But either way you look at it both Presidents have proven dangerous to the economy. Hopefully this will be a lesson for voters going into the 2016 election: we need Presidents that understand economies cannot be micro-managed or ‘controlled’. If the voters don’t learn that lesson I fear the next President will be even more capable of destroying the economy than Obama; and that is something I am not sure the country can take.

  1. Merlyn Schutterle
    November 17, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Bell bottoms are cool! I was in the navy. You talk like the president is in control of everything. I don’t think the presidents of recent years have had control of much of anything. Big business has.

    • Ken Santema
      November 18, 2013 at 11:01 am

      Haha, I threw that line in to annoy a buddy of mine. He is a retired Navy and has gone at length to tell me why bell-bottoms are great.

  2. October 8, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    Oh, yeah Obama’s doing a BANG up job. Of course his supporters will tell you he’s adding millions of jobs, but neglect to tell you that he’s losing more jobs than he’s added. Or they will blame the “Boomers” for retiring, but that only accounts for about a third of this number, but then one has to ask “WHAT ABOUT THE YOUNG FOLKS” shouldn’t they at least be offsetting the Boomer retirement ? Well, NO they are not. At least NOT in the Obama economy, so when they claim it’s the boomer’s, I mention that it only points to the Failure of this administration of putting young people to work.

    • Merlyn Schutterle
      October 8, 2014 at 6:29 pm

      Come on, Keven. Maybe it makes you feel better to blame someone, but your blame is misplaced. As I indicated before, Obama is not god. Why do you expect miracles from him? Oh, well, play the blame game, but no matter what you believe, you are not wise enough to know the answers to anything. Pretty big ego you have there.

  1. November 20, 2013 at 1:49 pm
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