Recently, there has been this stupid meme going around whereby tricksters have tried to shock fools with the meaningless statistic about 94 million Americans not in the labor force. A quick googling of the phrase record not in labor force reveals a slew of search results.
First, the phrase labor force is a technical term and means the sum of those employed along with those who have looked for work in the last four weeks based on a survey conducted during the so-called reference week. So those not in the labor force are those who don't have jobs and who haven't looked for work in the last four weeks.
As I show always, numbers without context lack meaning and usefulness to describe reality. Here is reality:
So is the current percent of 37.3% far from historical norms? No. Right now, the latest reading of 37.3% is only 11.2% higher than the average from the end of July, 1986, to the end of July, 2007.
You can better believe that before World War 2, consistently, those not in the labor force as a percent of free total civilian population would have been been a far greater percentage.