The Instigator
Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)

The labor participation rate is a deceptive way to represent how well the economy is going

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/6/2016 Category: Economics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 212 times Debate No: 97691
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Since I consider that we both share the burden of proof, I'll just open up this debate with an argument in the first round and skip on an acceptance round.

First, let's define the labor participation rate. The labor participation rate(LPR) is the percentage of Americans(16 years or older) currently working full or part-time or who are unemployed but are actively looking for work.

In recent years starting from 2006, the LPR has gone down from over 66% to under 63% [1] the lowest it has ever been. There are approximately 95 million 16 year olds or older who are not working and not part of the LPR.

Many people deceptively use the LPR as an indicator that America's economy is doing poorly, however I claim that there are legitimate reasons for the LPR to be going down.

Let's look at who are not included in the LPR, in other words, who is making up the 37% of Americans who are not working and not in the LPR? Well, they are retirees, full-time students who don't have time to work, the disabled, prison inmates, military personnel, and anyone who has stopped looking for work for the reason that they can't find work.[2] I consider the last category to be the only real measure of how badly the economy is doing.

Now, let's see how many people are included in each of those categories:
Retired: 50.2 million+ [3]
Disabled or too ill to work: 16.3 million+ [2]
Full-time Students: 16.0 million+ [2]
Prison inmates: 1.9 million+ [3]
Military Personnel: 1.3 million+ [3]
Total number: 85.7 million people

That leaves another 9.3 million or so who are not accounted for. These would likely be people who are unemployed and NOT looking for work, probably because they can't find work. This is the true number that is indicative of how the economy is going, which when combined with the official unemployment stats for u3 unemployment, which is 4.6% of the population[4], you get around 16.7 million unemployed people. The reason why these two numbers can be combined is because they do represent two different things: the u3 unemployment rate is the number of people who are still looking for work while unemployed, the other number I got from the LPR is the number of people unemployed who have stopped looking for work for economic reasons.

Thus, 16.7 million is the number of truly unemployed people. While this is nothing to sneeze at, and it is pretty significant, it took looking at the LPR honestly and the u3 unemployment rate. Thus, the Labor Participation Rate by itself is deceptive when thinking about it, since you need to first take people out who are not being counted in the LPR for good reasons. I'm sure my opponent will agree that the situations I outlined above, are good reasons to not be looking for employment. If they object to any of them being taken out, then that is up for debate and we can debate on that.

Now, as I stated before, I believe there are legitimate reasons for the LPR to be going down. Prior to the Millennial generation, the Baby Boomer generation was the largest generation of people we've ever seen [5]. The baby boomer generation is becoming of retiring age right now, and has been for the past few years. This increases the amount of retirees substantially, and thus lowers the LPR. In addition, since the Millennial generation is working less due to the need to go to college, there are not people who are immediately replacing the baby boomer generation. In fact, college enrollment has been going up significantly over the past several decades[6]. However if we give it a few years for the millennials to finish college more, I'm sure we will see the LPR stay around the same or even rise a little. In fact, if we look at source [1], it looks like the LPR is stabilizing near the very end at the beginning of 2016 and even rising a little.

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Debate Round No. 1
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Debate Round No. 2
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