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Unemployed and overlooked: Labor force rate of participation down drastically

Since 2007, 4 million people have left the labor force, in many cases because they have given up looking for jobs. If these 'discouraged jobseekers' were counted in the jobless rate, August's numbers would have been 10.5 percent.

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Sheila Bird, (r.), waits in line for employment interviews at a job fair at City Target in Los Angeles August 17. Since the recession many workers have given up looking for jobs, leaving millions chronically unemployed.

Nick Ut/AP/File

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When Daniel McCune graduated from college three years ago, he was optimistic his good grades would earn him a job as an intelligence analyst with the government.

With a Bachelor of Science degree from Liberty University in Virginia, majoring in government service and history, McCune applied for jobs at the National Security Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies.

But after a long hunt that yielded only two interviews, the 26-year-old threw in the towel last fall, joining millions of frustrated Americans who have given up looking for work.

"There's nothing out there and there probably won't be anything for a while," said McCune, from New Concord, Ohio. He has moved back home to live with his parents, who are helping him pay off his college debt of about $20,000.

"I don't like it, it's embarrassing. I don't want to be a burden to my parents," said McCune, adding that he felt like a high school dropout.

Economists, analyzing government data, estimate about 4 million fewer people are in the labor force than in December 2007, primarily due to a lack of jobs rather than the normal aging of America's population. The size of the shift underscores the severity of the jobs crisis.

If all those so-called discouraged jobseekers had remained in the labor force, August's jobless rate of 8.1 percent would have been 10.5 percent.

The jobs crisis spurred the Federal Reserve last week to launch a new bond-buying program and promise to keep it running until the labor market improves. It also poses a challenge to President Barack Obama's re-election bid.

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