A job fair was held at the The Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., last month. The U.S. unemployment rate declined in August in part because the number of "discouraged workers" climbed.
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Geoff Dutton, an unemployed software developer, has given up on finding a job. He says the market has shifted, and he could not keep up. "I wasn't up on the new version of everything anymore," he says.
The U.S. population is growing. In normal times, the labor force — working or not — would be growing too. But these are not normal times, and the labor force is actually smaller than it was four years ago, meaning millions of people who should be there aren't.
The reasons people drop out of the workforce are myriad. People go back to school. Others have health issues or family priorities that keep them from looking for work. But some stop looking because they are discouraged.