U.S. Labor Force: Where Have All the Workers Gone?

Ravi BalakrishnanBy Ravi Balakrishnan

(Version in Español)

It’s not supposed to be this way. As the U.S. economy recovers, hirings increase and people are encouraged to look for jobs again. Instead, the ratio of the adult population with jobs, or looking for one—what’s called the labor force participation rate—has been falling, standing at 62.9 percent in July 2014 (Figure 1).

Figure 1

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Fiscal Glass is Half Full: Some Reasons for Optimism

In the midst of jittery financial markets, and global economic doom and gloom, it’s easy to become pessimistic. Public debt and fiscal deficits in many advanced economies remain very high. Nevertheless, important progress has been made in fiscal adjustment—the fiscal outlook in most countries is stronger than we expected two years ago. So to the pessimists I say, don’t lose sight of what’s been achieved. But, to the optimists (if there are any) I say, don’t underestimate what still needs to be done. The task that policymakers face is complicated. They need to ensure the public sector is not a source of instability by committing to a plan that will stabilize and then bring down public debt. At the same time, they need to make sure that fiscal tightening itself does not undermine the recovery.

Unleashing Growth Potential in the Middle East

Recent popular protests in the Middle East and North Africa, although likely to have a negative economic impact in the short run, might actually help to unleash the countries’ long-term growth potential. By providing the impetus for reforms, these events may encourage better governance, greater transparency, and more competition—in other words, tackling many of the constraints that have held back progress in these societies. In a recent (video) interview, I talk more about events in the region, the policy challenges, and what actions might help these countries achieve higher standards of living and employment for all sections of society.

By | February 24th, 2011|Emerging Markets, Employment, Low-income countries, Middle East|

Saving the Lost Generation

Oslo was the scene this week of a remarkable event that brought together global leaders from government, business, trade unions, and academia to discuss what many of them said is the biggest issue facing the world today: the jobs crisis. In this blog, IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn reflects on unemployment today—the highest level in history—and, importantly, about what can be done to save the potentially "lost generation" of unemployed young people.

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