One number in the labor statistics department has conservatives all up in a wad – the workforce participation number. These are people who are not in the labor force. I am not an expert in labor statistics, but from a cursory reading of them (they are available here with an explanation here) does not give me alarm about this number.
The way that conservative pundits put it, an enormous number of people have found that the economy is so bad, that they have simply left the workforce – they have given up looking for work. There is, possibly, another interpretation. It might be that conservatives are winning in other areas.
Since the 1970s, the two-breadwinner family model has risen dramatically. However, conservatives have long been critical of this approach for a number of reasons, many of which are detailed in MicroSecession. In brief, having a second breadwinner doesn’t necessarily increase the productive output of the home, it just means that all the household endeavors went from unpaid to paid workers. For instance, if a wife stays home, she takes care of a lot of the housework, and might even mow the lawn. She takes care of the kids when they are home from school. If a wife, instead, works, all of these tasks must be taken care of in some manner – often times by hiring it out. So, you have a second income, but you must pay for cleaning services, yard services, and childcare services. So the second income doesn’t necessarily benefit the family, it just means that you have to pay taxes not only on the husband’s work, but also on the wife’s work.
So, my guess is that much of the reason that workforce participation numbers are down is because women have started taking a more active role in the home. In addition, a new conservative trend has many women heading in this direction in greater numbers – homeschooling.
What the homeschool movement has pointed out is that it is the responsibility of the parents to take charge of their children’s education. Outsourcing this to schools often isn’t cutting it. Therefore, many parents are making the decision to live on a tight budget during the child-rearing years so that the wife can stay home to educate the children.
As someone who is negative on the current economy, I don’t doubt that we have employment problems. Actually, even more than employment problems, we have income problems because the Federal Reserve is debasing our currency, and the federal government is making getting out of poverty bad business (i.e. when someone tries to get out of poverty, they actually lose money when they first begin to work, making starting the journey out nearly impossible).
However, I do think that some of the numbers reflect some amount of healing in society, even as our government is just as bad as ever.