We’re Still Not Quite at Full Employment

Here’s another look at how the economy is doing:

The overall labor force participation rate is hard to draw conclusions from because it includes students and retirees. Some of the change in these categories might be related to the state of the economy, but some of it is simply voluntary and demographic.

By looking only at prime-age workers, we eliminate this point of confusion. The good news is that the participation rate has been increasing for the past two years. The bad news is that we’re still roughly 1 percentage point away from full employment. That’s about a million people, give or take. The economy continues to improve, but it still has a ways to go before it’s firing on all cylinders.