Here is a link to some great labor force participation data from the Atlanta Fed. (HT: EV) Be sure to check out all the information on this page, too, including the interactive chart and the downloadable data.
Here are a couple of graphs. But there are tons more.
I think this data generally backs up the notion that much of the decline in LFP has been age related. I have attributed the disability problem mostly to aging, but the data here makes it clear that there has been a sharp increase in disability, even after adjusting for age. In fact, among prime age workers, while most employment indicators are now improving, disability is still growing as a reason for dropping out of the labor force.
In the second graph I have posted here, most of the decline in Prime Age LFP in the "Don't want a job" category is due to higher disability claims. Part of this is due to the unusually large number of 50 year+ workers in the population distribution right now. But, part of this is due to an increase in disability claims within that age group (Paging Benjamin Cole!). Prime-Age includes 25-54 year olds, and much of the decline is due to more schooling at the low end of the age group and more disability at the high end of the age group.
Most of the increase in disability claims during the recession has been among the older working age population, but disability since 1999 has increased across all age groups.
Anyway, don't stop with my post. Go to the links. This is great stuff for data nerds.