The civilian labor force shrank in April by 342,000 workers and remains below where it stood when the economic recovery started 34 months ago, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Had the labor force not declined, unemployment would have been 8.3% in April, instead of the 8.1% reported.
That same month, more than 225,000 workers applied for Social Security disability benefits, and nearly 90,000 were enrolled, according to new data from the Social Security Administration.
On the jobs front, nonfarm payrolls rose by just 115,000 in April, less than expected and confirming that economic activity has cooled after getting a warm-weather boost. It was the third straight month of smaller job gains after January’s 275,000.
That kept the unemployment rate above 8% for the 39th straight month.
And that rate would have been higher had the labor force not continued to shrink.