America's unemployment rate sank to 7.4 percent in July, a drop of two-tenths of a percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says in its monthly summary of the U.S. economic situation. But employers added 162,000 jobs last month, coming in below economists' expectations.
The unemployment rate only includes people who don't have jobs and are looking for work. A much larger swath of people — about 36 percent of U.S. adults — don't have jobs and aren't looking for work at all. That figure is higher than it's been in decades (and, conversely, the share of adults in the labor force — shown in the graph above — is lower than it's been in decades).
Here are four reasons why so many people are leaving the labor force.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index, the benchmark of America's largest corporations, surpassed 1,700 points for the first time in early trading Thursday. The rise is being tied to a drop in weekly jobless claims, as well as assurances from central banks in the U.S. and Europe that they would continue to bolster their economies.