Diane asked me to comment on Tommy De Seno's post regarding the decline in labor force participation. The statistic comes from the household survey of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Every decade they have to update their data from the Census. That confirmed a pattern we've observed for some time: All of that gain that Tommy shows is from female labor force participation. The participation of men has been declining for decades. Timothy Taylor has a very nice article on this from last week, and the relevant graph is below:
Tim's article has great detail and highlights a number of trends for why males are dropping out (disability filings?) and the changing behavior of youth (more in college?) and elderly employment (better health?) Rather than rehash the arguments, I invite you to read more. But this quote from a paper Tim reviews, seems to answer Tommy's question:
This article presents a variety of evidence—including data on demographic shifts, labor market flows, gender differences, and the effects of long-term unemployment—to disentangle the roles of the business cycle and trend factors in the recent drop in participation. Taken together, the evidence indicates that long-term trend factors account for about half of the decline in labor force participation from 2007 to 2011, with cyclical factors accounting for the other half.