The U.S. economy added just 115,000 jobs in April, which is essentially the number of Americans who typically enter the workforce each month. Numbers by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show the unemployment rate to have dropped from 8.2 percent to 8.1 percent, which is the lowest since December 2009, but the figure is deceiving. Unemployment dropped because people have abandoned their job search, which causes them to go uncounted in the official tally.
In fact, the share of Americans in the labor force -- either working or actively looking for a job is at its lowest since 1981. This is a staggering statistic, because, as the New York Times points out, much fewer women did paid work 30 years ago. The share of men in the labor force is at its lowest level since the Bureau of Labor statistics began collecting jobs data in 1948.