Academic journal article Monthly Labor Review

Labor Force Projections to 2012: The Graying of the U.S. Workforce: The Labor Force Will Continue to Age, with the Annual Growth Rate of the 55-Years-and-Older Group Projected to Be Nearly 4 Times That of the Overall Labor Force; as the Participation Rates of Older Age Groups Increase, the Older Population's Share of the Workforce Will Rise

Academic journal article Monthly Labor Review

Labor Force Projections to 2012: The Graying of the U.S. Workforce: The Labor Force Will Continue to Age, with the Annual Growth Rate of the 55-Years-and-Older Group Projected to Be Nearly 4 Times That of the Overall Labor Force; as the Participation Rates of Older Age Groups Increase, the Older Population's Share of the Workforce Will Rise

Article excerpt

This article examines projected trends in he labor force over the 2002-12 period. By 2012, the number of persons working or looking for work is expected to reach 162.3 million. The labor force is anticipated to exhibit steady growth and increase by 17.4 million, or 12 percent, over the 2002 figure. The growth in the labor force during 2002-12 is projected to be larger than in the previous 10-year period, 1992-2002, when the labor force grew by 14.4 million, or 11.3 percent.

The annual rate of growth in the women's labor force is expected to remain the same as it was during the 1992-2002 period, namely, 1.3 percent, but it will still increase at a faster rate than that of men. (See table 1.) The men's labor force is expected to grow at an annual rate of 1.0 percent, more rapidly than the growth rate in the 1992-2002 period, even though the aggregate labor force participation rate for men is projected to continue to decline. Women's share of the labor force is expected to increase from 46.5 percent in 2002 to 47.5 percent in 2012. By contrast, men's share is projected to decline from 53.5 percent in 2002 to 52.5 percent in 2012.

The projected labor force growth will be affected by the aging of the baby-boom generation--persons born between 1946 and 1964. In 2012, the baby-boom cohort will be 48 to 66 years. This age group is expected to show significant growth over the 2002-12 period. The labor force will continue to age, with the annual growth rate of the 55-and-older group projected to be 4.1 percent, nearly 4 times the rate of growth of the overall labor force. It is anticipated that, in 2012, youths will constitute 15 percent of the labor force, and prime-age workers--those between the ages of 25 and 54--will make up about 66 percent of the labor force. The share of the 55-and-older age group will increase from 14.3 percent to 19.1 percent of the labor force.

As a result of divergent rates of population growth in the past, racial and Hispanic-origin groups are projected to continue to show widely varied rates of growth. By 2012, due to faster population growth resulting from a younger population, higher fertility rates, and increased immigration levels, the Hispanic labor force is expected to reach 23.8 million. Despite slower-than-average growth, white non-Hispanics will continue to make up about 66 percent of the labor force.

Every 2 years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics produces medium-term, or 10-year, labor force projections. The present set of projections covers the 2002-12 period and estimates the future size and composition of the labor force. (1) The labor force projections are used as input in projecting the industrial and occupational employment patterns of the U.S. economy.

The labor force projections are estimated by combining population projections calculated by the U.S. Census Bureau with the labor force participation rate projections developed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2) Consequently, the labor force is a reflection of changes in either the population trend or the labor force participation rate. Changes in the labor force are better understood if they are decomposed into these two components, each of which is therefore discussed separately in what follows.

Population projections

The population projections provided to the Bureau of Labor Statistics by the Census Bureau for this round of projections were based on the 2000 census of the U.S. population (hereafter referred to as Census 2000; see box on this page). The Census Bureau makes several alternative population projections based on different assumptions about future fertility, mortality, and migration. The Bureau of Labor Statistics selects the middle-series scenario of the population projections as a basis for its labor force projections. The main assumptions of the middle series are as follows:

* The level of childbearing among women is assumed to remain close to the present levels, with differences by race and Hispanic origin diminishing over time. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.