Look Who Has the Highest Labor Force Participation Rate, Eh?

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Ralph Dillon via Global Financial Data,

Lately, much has been made about Unemployment and Labor Participation Rates here domestically in the United States. With unemployment steadily ticking down from 10% at it peak to just 6.5% today, many point to the improving economy as a reason that the Unemployment Rate has been steadily improving. While it makes for good political theater, the reality is that we are suffering from an employment crisis in this country not seen in nearly 3 decades.

The problem we face, is that while unemployment has been creeping down, the number of those currently in the labor force has also come down. Frankly put, people who would like to work can’t. They are having a very difficult time finding work and keeping it. With the total duration of unemployment now at 101 weeks, that’s nearly 2 years of unemployment, one can hardly find a reason to celebrate 6.5% unemployment.
Now imagine if you will you are in a country like Italy. Italy has certainly had its struggles during the global recession like everyone else, but if you think we have it bad here, look what they are dealing with. With just about a 50% Labor Participation Rate, Italy’s  unemployment has soared to almost 13% and appears headed much higher. In looking at the chart below, it appears that that trend is going nowhere but higher. Especially when you factor in the rest of the economic and social issues that the country is facing.

Makes you want to think about all the different ways that the Government keeps statistics on Unemployment and how they use it. Currently, we have the U-1,2,3,4,5,6 classifications depending on which narrative you are looking to exploit. Many would make an argument that if you truly wanted to gauge where unemployment stands today, you would just simply have to count those who are well, unemployed. Pretty simple concept. So why don’t we do it? Probably because our Unemployment would look like Italy’s.
Finally, I think one of the most effective ways of measuring employment is by looking at the Labor Participation Rate. Those who are in the work force who want to work and are fortunate enough to be working and can. I think it paints a much more complete picture of the employment landscape that we are facing. In doing so, I thought it would be interesting to look at Developed Nations Labor Participation Rates to see just how bad we have it. I guess it could be worse, at least we are second in terms of participation at around 64% and not Italy near 50%.
And who do you think has the highest Labor Force Participation Rate amongst the developed countries? The answer may surprise you eh...

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
zorba THE GREEK's picture

But if you count all the people with non-productive jobs in the gov. it is unfair and skews

the real rate which is 50%. Hello Italy and Greece

macholatte's picture




Rome (AFP) - With a turnover of 53 billion euros ($73 billion) in 2013, the 'Ndrangheta mafia from southern Italy made more money last year than Deutsche Bank and McDonalds put together, a new study said Wednesday.




Freddie's picture

I bet they treat their customers better than Deutsche Bank and McDonalds do.

Carl Popper's picture

Lots of people in " developed countries"  have the luxury of not having to take a job they consider beneath them. 


"Developed countries" are so wealthy compared to the rest of the world that no one really goes hungry, third world hungry that is. 


Both of those will change someday.  People will get out and rake leaves or push an ice cream cart if necessary to eat.   "Unemployment" in developed countries is a choice.



Postal's picture

Sure it is. Because I "choose" to have to pay $4.00/gal for gas to drive to my work site. And I "choose" to pay my part-time helper $15/hr (plus Obamacare). And I "choose" to pay for liability insurance. And I "choose" to pay a lawyer $400/hr to write up a NDA & release from liability (that's only going to be tossed out--hey, what do you expect for only $400/hr).

The fact is most people really are better off sitting on their asses. If a job doesn't cover expenses, then who would invest in it? When I was unemployed, I could lose money slower by not moving (not driving, etc.). Why would I "work" if that only accelerated my losses? That's bad business--and stupid.

Glass Seagull's picture



Shows how lack of chronic inflation can be beneficial in the long run (to the worker)?

Revolutionary concept.

Spitzer's picture



Wop thread on wopper Wednesday

Let them eat iPads's picture

Canadians have to work 3 jobs to pay for stupidly high real estate.

McMolotov's picture

Americans have to work 3 jobs to pay for stupidly high health care, so we're aboot even.

Abbie Normal's picture

Canadians have to work three jobs to pay for stupidly high taxes, which pays for the health care with stupidly long waiting lines.

tmosley's picture

Nah, like the Canadians, we simply don't get any health care!

pound the vix's picture

Full employment in Canada because of socialized medicine



Herdee's picture

Maybe it's because we're mellowed out and smoke a lot of BC Big Bud up here. "Stay stoned in your igloo."

buzzsaw99's picture

at least canada gubbermint gives a fuck about their people unlike the usa where the bankers and politicians hold you down and let the corporations and billionaires rape you nonstop until you're dead. Death by bunga!

Deathrips's picture

Canadas insolvent. They will pay the piper soon. Everyone will.


Socialism Sucks.



buzzsaw99's picture

Fascism sucks worse imo.

McMolotov's picture

"Ism's, in my opinion, are not good. A person should not believe in an 'ism,' he should believe in himself." —Ferris Fucking Bueller

Quantum Nucleonics's picture

Fascism and socialism/communism end up looking a lot alike, even though they are theoretically very different.  That said, in terms of body count, socialism/communism has been way, way worse.

Woodhippie's picture

I think fascism and socialism/communism are the same thing.

Stalin was considered "far left".  He had world domination inclination, murdered millions, and instituted gulags.

Hitler was considered "far right".  He had world domination inclination, murdered millions, and instituted concentration camps.

The only difference I see is what term you use for "prison".

fxrxexexdxoxmx's picture

As long as the Canadians have natural resources to rape they will be fine. If the USA attacked gia that way we would be called racist, evil, captialist, haters of the mother nature. But Canada can do it all day long and get a pass since they are special sorta like Russia. Environmental responsibilty is a cultural thing and the USA has bad culture so they are not allowed to act like Russia and Canada. If the USA attacked its natural resources like them we would be a major energy exporter.

Carl Popper's picture

In spite of the negatives most Canadians would admit what he says is true.  However all the destruction is far away from populated areas.  


Being desperate enough to wash oil off sand and completely destroy the environment for petroleum exports is pretty desperate. 

FrankDrakman's picture

As L'il Stevie Harper once said, the rest of the world seems to think that Canada should be a giant national park for them to come by and enjoy, occasionally. Well, sorry, we're going to build a country, and we're going to use what's here, from our trees to our minerals to our oil. Low-skill manufacturing has already left for Mexico and China; what are we supposed to do? Wait for Vlad to come and give us all a big cheque ('cause it's sure not gonna come from Bambam)?

greatbeard's picture

>> If the USA attacked its natural resources like them

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I'm pretty sure we have.  What, are you pissed we have a few National Parks without oil derreks in them?

garypaul's picture

FYI, most of those jobs are in CONSTRUCTION. Yep, the one sector that's very vulnerable right now.

Anybody's picture

Indeed at $11.50 and hour ... and with temp companies. I have just seen 500 people laid off at a site. The notice comes at the end of the day: "You're laid off." No such thing as a 2 week notice.

FrankDrakman's picture

You are so full of shit. Fifteen seconds on google to find out that there 1.3 million jobs in construction (which is anything from bathroom renovations to high rises) out of 17 million, or about 8%. "Most"?!

I Write Code's picture

The 6.5% is simply a Big Lie.

And whatever the number, no single number shows the additional damage due to underemployment and falling wages, not to mention lack of stability and benefits.

AND YET the highways are jammed, the mall parkings lots are full, and there is no more than a little muttering in dark places.  If you had told anybody even twenty years ago that we'd have 6.5% unemployment and it would NOT be a crisis, they would have thought you nuts.  If you had outlined the REAL situation today, they could not have imagined it - we are pressing on Depression era numbers.  I guess that safety net kind of works, or else borrowing $18 trillion dollars kind of works ... until it doesn't.

RevRex's picture

Mall parking lots are full? Did you get that from MSNBC or the WhiteHouse....ok, same thing.....

CrashisOptimistic's picture

Ya, I see no full mall parking lots.

I don't even see full Walmart parking lots.

I Write Code's picture

Well, some more than others, since malls in general aren't doing the business they used to.  And I include Target lots, I don't much go near Walmart lots by necessity and choice both - none in my area and fine by me.

I was at the Westfield Topanga mall this last weekend, which is one honkin' big mall and the parking lots were maybe 85% full, and the area is pretty much mixed incomes, within five miles you can find five million dollar homes or twenty illegals squatting in a twelve hundred square foot foreclosure or anything in between.  Those at the mall were mostly from the upper half, at least.  I can't speak to what if anything people were actually buying, other than that they made an effort to show up.

Carl Popper's picture

Anecdotally Highways and restaurants are jammed where I live too.  I don't know what to make of it except clearly we are consuming more than labor participation rates would indicate. 


Maybe we are all just nigger rich and this is just a temporary illusion. 

Quantum Nucleonics's picture

Rougly 50% of Americans receive some form of check from the government.  Mystery solved.

Postal's picture

I don't get a check! I work for mine: I had my servants gather what Ben dropped from his helicopter... [/s]

RacerX's picture

damned Canuks. Eh.

A Dollar Short's picture

What Bogus BULLSHIT!


New jobs report - "2/3rds added are Government and educators". 


WHAT CRAP!!  This system is obviously going to crash!



August's picture

New jobs report - "2/3rds added are Government and educators".

"Government" and "education" are the price we pay to maintain the Status Quo.

And no price is too high for that purpose.

Carl Popper's picture

A friend of mine once observed that developed countries are unique in consistently putting everyone in the servant class on disability. 


In the third world even small apartments have a tiny room for the maid.  


No EBT cards for them.   They have to work for a subsistence living.  What a luxury to have a live in maid for 200 dollars per month.   I am retiring in the third world where I can have a maid and a sugarbabe for less than 800 per month total. 

CrashisOptimistic's picture

No you aren't.

The retiree expats CONSISTENTLY underestimate costs.

Here are some:

1) healthcare incidentals, even if youhave some insurance from the US that extends, there will be incidentals.  Eyes and hearing usually not covered by standard insurance, for example.

2) Visa renewal fees

3) travel, you WILL be making an annual or every 2 year trip back "home".

4) US taxes

5) theft

6) local transport

Carl Popper's picture

What are you?    Some kind of buzz kill?


Don't destroy my fantasy!   

Postal's picture

1) Healthcare is only an issue if you care about staying alive. Which, after certain unnamed persons manage to decrypt my hard drive, will be a much less appealing option.

2) Damn! Another tax.

3) I will? Why? I thought the nagging bitch's lawyers were finished...

4) No comment.

5 & 6) I don't care if they rob me blind as long as I get to see girls to things that are illegal in half of the UN recognized countries.

Quantum Nucleonics's picture

If reliable stats were available, I'm sure North Korea would have the highest labor force participation.  WORK!  Or it's two to the back of the head.  Plus, nothing like starvation to movitvate you back into the labor force.

honestann's picture

You mean NK is now so rich that they're willing to expend two bullets when one will do?  Wow, I didn't realize they were doing so... eh... "well".

Metalredneck's picture

Is this seasonally adjusted due to our brutal fucking winte this year?

Restcase's picture

Yo mama has the highest labor rate force participation. Under the table, baby!

icanhasbailout's picture

This chart would be much clearer with more blue lines.

pitz's picture

Canada, at least for the moment, has the housing bubble. But its now deflating, and our path is likely to converge more closely with that of the United States labour-force participation-rate wise.

Rising Sun's picture

the largest province, Ontario, has twice the debt of California and ONE THIRD the population


sure, with the right amount of debt, anyone can make up useless fucking jobs and over pay for them


when oil prices fall, Canada is fucked - there's nothing there but rocks and trees