In a free society, even a huge decline in participation isn't necessarily a bad thing, not to mention that many people pursue meaningful work, such as raising children, outside the conventional job market. At least half the decline in participation is due to retirements of baby boomers, who range in age from 50 to 68 this year.
But other causes are more difficult to accept with equanimity. For example, as documented by Charles Murray in his 2012 book Coming Apart, there has been a huge increase in the share of people qualifying for federal disability benefits, even though greater safety in the workplace should have led to a decline, rather than a rise. Last week's scandal involving disability fraud in New York by 106 offenders, including 80 retired police and firefighters, was a grim reminder of this trend.
The labor-force participation of men age 25 to 54 stood at 88% in December, down from 88.5% in December 2012 -- a half-percentage-point decline that leaves nearly a third of a million prime-age men unaccounted for. Hard to believe that they have all become stay-at-home dads.http://online.barrons.com/article/SB50001424053111904246304579304610696912206.html?mod=googlenews_barrons