Feb 3, 2017

The most important thing from Trump's first jobs report

The first jobs report of the Trump era shows the U.S. economy adding 227,000 jobs in January, and the unemployment rate edging up slightly to 4.8%.

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Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

The most important thing: The labor force participation rate is the share of Americans over the age of 16 who have a job or are actively looking for work. This number has been falling for decades, partly as a result of an aging population. The smaller the labor force participation rate, the lower the American potential growth rate.

  • Good for Trump: This measure rose by 0.2% to 62.9% — a good start for the President.
  • Bad for Trump: The measure has bounced around near all-time lows for years now, and boosting the rate, or at least slowing its decline is one of the thorniest policy goals of the day. To make matters worse, research shows that even when looking at workers below the age of 65, the U.S. lags behind peers like France and Germany in labor force participation.
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