The Labor Participation Rate is the total number of people employed expressed as a percentage of the total non-institutionalized working force over the age of 16.
It is a good number to watch, because it is harder to play games with it, as the government tends to do with the unemployment rate, making people disappear when their benefits expire.
Granted, it is not perfect, because it does not account for those who are underemployed, working part time or at a minimum wage job far below their aspirations and capabilities.
Nevertheless, we are seeing a flatness in the employment figures that is pronounced.
This might not necessarily be a bad thing, if the average real wage was rising sufficiently so that one might put forward the hypothesis that people are not working because they do not need to work, and their disposable income is sufficient for their needs.
But this is not the case in the USA.
A painful adjustment to free trade and globalization? Sending your working class against nations that are executing aggressive industrial policies is like sending troops marching upright in ordered ranks into heavily entrenched machine gun fire.
Most would feel better if that pain were more equally and equitably distributed. The wealthy elite often like to use a crisis to send a nation to war at times such as these, to create work and control the population. In WWI there was also a vigorous pandemic to help cull the herd as the eugenicists used to say. Good for employment, perception control, and of course profits.
And so it is, that the generals, besotted with the favors of industrialists, and the institutionalized thinking of craven staff, are fighting the last war once again, and losing badly.