US loses edge as employment powerhouse

The US is losing its edge as an employment powerhouse, where most people have a job or are looking for one, after its labour participation rate fell behind the UK’s

The labour force participation rate – the proportion of adults who are either working or looking for work – started to decline in the US in 2000 and has plunged since 2008 from 66 to 63 per cent.

Economists have been surprised by the trends, not least because the US labour market has long been seen as one of the most resilient and flexible.

“America is even more flexible than us and yet there is this complete contrast,” said Paul Gregg, economics professor at the UK’s Bath university.

Gary Burtless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution think-tank in Washington, said the US used to stand out among rich countries for its high labour force participation but that was no longer the case.

“The US used to have a reputation for being very hard working,” he said.

There are no definitive answers yet as to why the labour markets have behaved so differently.

Full article: US loses edge as employment powerhouse (Financial Times)

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