Good catch by John Cassidy, at the New Yorker:
…[S]omething the C.B.O. said that you probably missed, which is based on actual facts rather than on informed speculation: in the past five years or so—and this has nothing to do with Obamacare—some six million jobs (and workers) have already gone missing from the U.S. economy.
That figure was in a separate report that the C.B.O. released on Tuesday, titled, “The Slow Recovery of the Labor Market.” As someone who has written several times about the “missing millions” of workers in this recovery, I was, naturally, drawn to the new report, particularly to the estimate that the missing number is six million, which is about the population of Missouri.
Based on history, all these people should be earning a living and paying taxes. Instead, they’ve dropped out of the work force, and … well, the truth is, we don’t know exactly what they’ve done. Some of them have probably taken early retirement. Others may be working part time in the black economy. Many of them are almost certainly sitting at home, doing nothing. A few may be glad they’re no longer working, but, from studies of how being jobless affects people, we know that many of them are feeling depressed and worthless. Their inactivity represents a tragic human and economic waste, but, for some reason, it’s not one that the G.O.P. seems particularly indignant about.
For some time now, there has been a debate about why the labor-force participation rate has fallen so far. Some analysts point to demographics: the aging of baby boomers. Others blame low levels of demand and hiring, which have prompted some of the unemployed to give up on looking for work. The C.B.O. study splits things down the middle. Of the roughly three-percentage-point fall in the participation rate since 2007, the study attributes 1.5 percentage points to “long term trends (particularly the aging of the population)” and the other 1.5 percentage points to “weak employment prospects” and other “unusual aspects of the slow recovery.”
One can quibble with these figures. At least one other study, by the Economic Policy Institute, found that weak demand accounted for two-thirds of the fall in the participation rate. But, even if we accept the C.B.O.’s conclusions, they imply that about three million Americans who should be working have vanished from the labor force.
Since 2008, the Republicans have been fighting policy efforts to stimulate spending and hiring. In part, they are responsible for the millions of missing workers…