Labor force participation rates for people aged 16 and older and employed full-time in the United States are at historic lows.
The Labor Department reported Friday that the participation rate for the full-year March 1 through December 31 was 68.6 percent, down from 71.1 percent in February.
The participation rate has been declining since January 2009.
While the unemployment rate is at a near 10-year low of 4.9 percent, the rate for people ages 16 and over is still well below that of the labor force participation rate.
According to the Labor Department, the unemployment is still 4.3 percent.
The labor force also dropped slightly in December, but not by as much as in January.
In December, the laborforce participation rate was 67.6.
The December participation rate is up from 68.7 percent in December 2017.
However, it was down from 69.7 in November.
The unemployment rate has held steady at 5.3 percentage points.
“The labor force is the best indicator of the strength of the U-1 and the U2 labor force,” said Michael Biesecker, chief economist at TD Ameritrade.
“It is also the best gauge of the health of the economy and the ability of employers to fill jobs.
The decline in participation rates has been especially troubling in recent months.
These declines reflect the slow pace of job creation and a weak labor market, which has contributed to the overall lack of employment.”
The participation rates fell for men and for whites.
They also declined for blacks and Hispanics.
In February, there were 5.6 million more Americans working part-time than in December.
But the participation rates are down for women, blacks, and Hispanics and increased for whites, Asians, and men.
The rate for full-timers has been stagnant since the beginning of the year.
In February, the participation level for full time workers was 63.1, which was below the 67.8 rate in January, and down from 66.3 in February 2017.
For more on this topic, check out our special report, The labor market outlook.