Here's another sign of the difficult times we live in: The percentage of Americans who are either working or looking for work is at the lowest level in more than a quarter century.

The labor force participation rate for Americans 16 and over hit 63.9 percent in July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

© US Bureau Of Labor Statistics
That's the lowest level since 1984, back when Ronald Reagan was president and the United States' economy was in strong shape following back-to-back recessions in 1980-1982.

The labor force participation rate generally tends to dip in economic hard times, and some see it as a sign that people are dropping out of - or not coming into - the labor force because they don't think they can find a job.

There's no question the job market is difficult. The unemployment rate was 9 percent in July, with nearly 14 million people looking for work.

In addition, there were 1.1 million discouraged workers in July, which the BLS defines as people who aren't currently looking for work because they don't think there's a job there for them.