The labor force contracted in each of the last six months of 2012. Federal statistics show that between 2010 and 2012, more than 47,000 unemployed people dropped out of Connecticut’s labor force.
Those who quit looking affect the unemployment rate because the government only counts as unemployed those actively searching for work. Connecticut’s unemployment rate in December was 8.6 percent, above the U.S. rate.
Economists can’t determine whether demographic shifts are under way or if statistical samplings are off.
New England’s labor force also has been trimmed, though not as much as Connecticut’s. Nationally, the labor force participation rate dropped during the recession as millions of workers considered early retirement, living off a spouse’s income or other alternatives to working.