The level of participation in the workforce
is an important measure of economic vitality and household living standards. In the United States, the share of adults either employed or job seeking has been steady decline, according to research from The Brookings Institute and The Hamilton Project.
Last year over a third of U.S. adults were not part of the labor force and nearly a fifth of them were of prime working age.
In total, the number of prime working age people who are not in the labor force adds up to approximately 24 million. Of that amount, women with a high school education or less account for the largest group of people out of work by an overwhelmingly large margin. Even though there are no concrete reasons for the lack of participation, the research does provide some of the self-reported reasons people do not work.
70 percent cited caregiving
, disability or early retirement as reasons they could not work last year. Caregiving (which could involve taking care of an ill or disabled family member for example) was the most common reason for women while disability came first for men. Generally though, men and women report the same reasons (and at similar rates) for not being part of the workforce.