What is the current percentage of working-age Americans, eligible to participate in the civilian labor force, but not currently working? Answer: 36.3 percent. That’s the worst labor participation rate in three decades, and it’s part of the worst employment picture we’ve seen since the Great Depression. Labor force participation is the number we should really be looking at, even more than the unemployment figures cooked up on the monthly basis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those figures have their uses as well, but it seems reasonable to measure the overall health of the economy by the number of people who simply are not participating in the labor force.