'Discouraged workers (Current Population Survey)
Persons not in the labor force who want and are available for a job and who have looked for work sometime in the past 12 months (or since the end of their last job if they held one within the past 12 months), but who are not currently looking because they believe there are no jobs available or there are none for which they would qualify.'
And who is to say they did not look for work in the past 12 months? Did they hear a job was open that might suit them. So they made enquires but found out that that business won't hire people over 55. So they actively looked for work...if not officially so.
To my knowledge, the BLS does not define 'looking for work'. If I look through the want ads just ONCE per year, specifically for a job for myself - how is that technically not 'looking for work'? If I ask people I know if they are hiring people in my category (were I a discouraged, over 55 worker), how is that not 'looking for work'?
IMO, this 'looking for work' notion is silly and irrelevant and impossible to accurately measure. As far as I am concerned, if I want to work and can work then I should be part of the labor force...period.
I don't care how the BLS defines it now. IMO, that is (generally) how it should be defined...you want to work? Yes. Can you work? Yes. Okay...you are part of the labor force.
Excluding as many people from the labor force as possible to make the unemployment rate look lower is obviously something the WH/Congress puts pressure on the BLS to do.