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4.5 Million Missing American Workers

The job market is still strong for workers, but it has cooled off markedly over the past nine months. At the start of the year, we had an all-time high of twice as many job openings for every unemployed worker. Now that ratio has dropped to 1.5 job openings for every unemployed worker.

That ratio remains historically high, but the statistic is artificially inflated because of the big rise in the number of adults that are not in the labor force – i.e., either working or looking for work. In other words, they are not counted in the denominator in the chart above.

There are about 4.5 million people not working today who could be, and they are excluded from the unemployment rate calculation. Adjusting the latest 3.8 percent unemployment rate to account for these missing workers gives a much higher rate above 6%.

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