Participation Rate

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DEFINITION of 'Participation Rate'

A measure of the active portion of an economy's labor force. The participation rate refers to the number of people who are either employed or are actively looking for work. The number of people who are no longer actively searching for work would not be included in the participation rate. During an economic recession, many workers often get discouraged and stop looking for employment, as a result, the participation rate decreases.

BREAKING DOWN 'Participation Rate'

The participation rate is an important metric to note when looking at unemployment data because unemployment figures reflect the number of people who are looking for jobs but are unable to secure employment.


The participation rate is important in analyzing the unemployment rate. Those who have no interest in working are not included in the participation rate but are included in the unemployment rate. An aging population can have both a positive and negative effect on the participation rate, through retirement and new people entering the workforce. The participation rate and unemployment data should be observed in tandem to give a better understanding of the overall employment status.

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