In March 1965, there were more than 75.1 million people in the civilian labor force in the United States. This labor force has been growing steadily; its average size in 1947 was 60 million people, or 15 million fewer than today. It constitutes by far the most important productive resource of the American economy.
The civilian labor force is made up of persons fourteen years of age or older who are either employed or unemployed, excluding the armed forces and inmates of such institutions as prisons or mental hospitals. The employed are those who work full time or part time for wages and salaries plus those employed in their own businesses or doing more than fifteen hours a week of unpaid work in a family business. The unemployed are those who are looking for work or are on layoff from their jobs. In March, 1965, there were 71.3 million persons employed and 3.7 million unemployed.
The size and composition of the labor force are estimated each month from data collected in a sample survey covering approximately 35,000 households in 357 geographical areas, scientifically selected to represent the entire country. Household-survey techniques have been used to measure the American labor force since 1940 and are being adopted by an increasing number of other countries. The monthly data used in this talk have been adjusted by the United States Department of Labor to remove the effects of recurrent seasonal changes.