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More Americans gave up on working in June, and it shows that not everyone is finding the job they want

Juliana Kaplan,Madison Hoff,Alex Ford   

More Americans gave up on working in June, and it shows that not everyone is finding the job they want
  • In June, the country added 372,000 jobs — more than economists had estimated.
  • That means that the labor market is still booming.

The economic recovery chugged along in June with a still-booming job market, but that doesn't mean everyone in the country was working.

The latest data release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the US added 372,000 jobs in June — handily beating economists' estimates for 268,000 new payrolls, according to Bloomberg.

But even as the unemployment rate stayed low at 3.6% for the fourth consecutive month, and job growth boomed across industries, some workers were giving up on work altogether and left the labor force. In June, the labor force participation rate — which measures the number of people who were working or actively looking for work — dipped.

"The drop is disappointing, but it does take us back to levels that we saw just a few months ago," Daniel Zhao, senior economist at Glassdoor, told Insider. "It is a setback, but I think the overall trend over the course of the recovery has still been improving labor force participation."

June's rate of 62.2% means the rate is also still below the pre-pandemic rate of 63.4% in February 2020.

"Hopefully, this is a one-month aberration for both overall workers and prime age and we get back to a situation where that's picking up," Nick Bunker, economic research director at Indeed Hiring Lab, told Insider.

Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter, said the labor force participation decline seen in the Bureau's household survey could be a "one-month blip." She isn't "too worried about it" and believes "we will see people come back" to the labor force.

"There are signs in our marketplace that participation is increasing," Pollak told Insider. "We're seeing job seekers come back. We're also seeing employers appear not to face quite the same challenge attracting candidates as they did in the past."

Pollak added that ZipRecruiter surveys show inflation is a large reason people are returning to work, because it's "swallowing up their savings" and that older workers in particular "are feeling pressure to come back because of inflation."

The prime-age employment-population ratio, which measures the share of the population age 25-54 that has a job, also dropped in June. It shows one of the contradictions at heart of the current job market: Hiring and economic recovery is indeed on the fast track to full recovery, but some workers are still getting left behind, or opting out altogether.

Bunker said it would be good to see the prime-age employment-population ratio pick up too, which he said has "sort of flatlined."

"I would like to see that number start to grow more quickly again," he added. "That's definitely something to keep an eye on in reports in the month ahead."

It's a "little bit of a mystery" why people would leave the workforce right now, according to Zhao. Bunker similarly told Insider there isn't a "clear answer or cause of why we saw that downtick in June," adding "it could be one month of quirky data."

"I don't think that there's necessarily a reason why Americans would stop looking for work right now," Zhao said. "The job market is still very strong, demand for workers is very high."

Among people of color the recovery has looked very different, with Black unemployment rates persistently high — even amidst so-called labor shortages. In June, the Black labor force participation rate fell 0.8 percentage points, with labor force participation dipping equally precariously for both Black men and women.

The white labor force participation rate remained at 61.9% in June, the same as it was in April and May. That's still below the pre-pandemic rate.

The numbers from June do mark just one month in the US's recovery story. The latest data on workers quitting their jobs, shows that in May 4.3 million Americans felt no qualms about quitting at a near-record rate — and that hiring was still booming. That's still good news for job seekers.

Have you given up on the job hunt, or are feeling frustrated? Contact these reporters at and


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