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Fishkind Conversations: What Is The Labor Force Participation Rate, And Why Should We Care?

90.7's economic analyst Dr. Hank Fishkind, President of Fishkind and Associates
90.7's economic analyst Dr. Hank Fishkind, President of Fishkind and Associates

Last week in his address to a joint session of Congress, President Donald Trump emphasized the need to get the economy growing faster to create more jobs because 94 million Americans are not working. 90.7’s economic analyst Hank Fishkind says since there are 254 million people in the US, this would mean 37 percent of the population is not working.

But, Fishkind says, this is not as worrisome a statistic as it may sound, because of the people who are willing and able to work, the latest data show closer to 7.6 million can't find a job. That places the unemployment rate at about 5.5 percent instead.

According to Fishkind, the discrepancy lies in counting people who are not working because they are retired, disabled, going to school, or needed at home to care for family members.

The number to watch, he says, is the labor force participation rate, which has been falling for more than 30 years.

90.7's Nicole Darden Creston asked Fishkind what that is and why it matters.

Nicole came to Central Florida to attend Rollins College and started working for Orlando’s ABC News Radio affiliate shortly after graduation. She joined WMFE in 2010. As a field reporter, news anchor and radio show host in the City Beautiful, she has covered everything from local arts to national elections, from extraordinary hurricanes to historic space flights, from the people and procedures of Florida’s justice system to the changing face of the state’s economy.