The number of people considered "not in the labor force" increased by nearly 450,000 in November. The total is now at a record high of 95 million.
The "unemployment rate" that the politicians, economists and media like to talk about is bullshit. It doesn't really mean a hell of a lot when the government can arbitrarily adjust the size of the "labor force" to produce whatever fraction they want. It's not like 450,000 people just decided to retire in November. People fall into this category when their unemployment benefits run out, but they're still unemployed.
IMO, the most relevant metric for assessing the employment situation of the U.S. economy is the employment to population ratio.
I say it's the most relevant because it can't be so easily manipulated like the other "unemployment rate". Also because the working people, in one way or another, have to support themselves as well as all the non-working people. Of course there are a few who are living on retirement savings, but if they're old enough, they're getting their SS checks too, so they're still being supported in part by working people. That ratio is 59.7% at the moment, which is barely one percentage point above the lows it hit in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown. The whole "economic recovery" and the "unemployment rate" which has gone from 8-9% down to 4.9% is an illusion. The real economy and real employment situation still suck.
Actually, I think an even more interesting metric would throw kids into the equation. They need to be supported too. In that case, we've got a country where ~152 million people are supporting 320 million people, so the unemployment rate is really 52.5%