The number of Americans working more hours in 2015 exceeded the number who were in the workforce for the first time in three decades.
In the wake of President Trump’s inauguration, the labor force participation rate — the percentage of workers who have worked full-time — was at its lowest level since 1976.
The labor force was down 5.6 percentage points from the month before.
Employers said the slowdown in hiring is partly due to the economic uncertainty, which has created uncertainty for employers and made it difficult to recruit and retain workers.
In some cases, companies are even making fewer calls to recruit workers, citing the increased pressure of the election and the uncertain future of Trump’s health care bill.
“The slowdown in demand has created an environment that can be exploited by opportunists,” said Matthew Leavitt, a senior economist with Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
The lack of demand, coupled with the uncertainty of Trumpcare, has made it more difficult to attract employees to the job market, he said.
Employment officials also have cited the uncertainty surrounding the federal budget cuts and Trumpcare as factors in the joblessness.
While there’s no reason to think the slowdown will be permanent, it could take a few months to clear the way, said Dan Sosnowski, an employment economist at Moody’s Analytics.
The trend toward the long-term unemployed is also worrisome.
The unemployment rate remains stubbornly high at 8.4 percent, and the U.S. is still one of only six countries with an unemployment rate above 7 percent, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The country is also one of just a handful of countries that have a longer than normal unemployment gap between those who are working and those who aren’t.
There is evidence the labor market is still relatively strong.
The Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday that full-year job gains fell in February and March from a year earlier, partly due a slowdown in the number of people seeking work.
The number of full- and part-time jobs rose in April, and unemployment fell in March to 8.6 percent.
Economists have forecast that the U .
S. economy will grow at a 3.5 percent annual pace in 2018, with a pickup in jobs, jobs, and more jobs, but the pace will slow after 2019, when employers are likely to have to add jobs to compensate for lower pay.