Those unemployment numbers

It seems that everyone has focused on the low job creation part of the March employment numbers with a couple of nods to the fact that the labor force actually shrunk. To me, that is the bigger new — and the more interesting (worrisome?) trend. The actual size of the labor force continued to grow until the Great Recession and then flatten out.
Labor force - through 3-2013.png
But the labor force participation rate has not flatten but dropped down to 63.3%. It peaked in the boom years around the turn of the millennium at over 67%. But the decline in the labor force is not just a function of the Great Recession, but began around 2002 — admittedly accelerated by the downturn.
Labor force participation rate - through 3-2013.png
So, here is the question: are we seeing a reversal of the historic trend of a growing labor force due to greater participation?
Is a lower labor force participation rate the new normal? And what does that mean for economic growth?
And for our immigration policy?

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