Recent Updates

  • Hong Kong: Personal Bankruptcy Petitions (Jun); Pakistan: Credit by Borrowers (Jun); China: Fixed Assets Investment (Jun)
  • US: GDP by Industry (Q1)
  • Canada: Retail Trade (May), CPI (Jun)
  • Thailand: Trade (Jun); China: Loans from Financial Institutions (Jun); Korea: Trade in Goods (Jun); Taiwan: Export Orders (Jun)
  • Turkey: NCI Index (Jul)
  • more updates...

Economy in Brief

U.S. Labor Force Participation Decline Is Sharpest For Men
by Tom Moeller  January 7, 2013

Participation rates in the labor force have been declining for decades. Friday's household employment report, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, indicated that they reached new lows. December's 63.6% participation rate, which is the percentage of persons in the labor force versus the population, was down from its peak in the late-1990s of 67.1%. Detailed breakdowns of the rate indicate reduced participation across age brackets. However, the declines are greatest amongst men, young and old.There's no short answer to the question of why rates have declined precipitously. But a new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City concludes that half of the decline is due to cyclical factors and half due to long-term trend influences.

For males, the latest participation rate of 70.0% was nearly the lowest after a decline from the early-1948 peak of 87.0%. The drop reflects a fall in the 25-year-old and over cohort to 72.7% from 89.2% in 1948. For those younger, the rate fell twenty percentage points during the same period to 56.6%. Working the other way, older men are staying in the labor force longer. For those aged 55 years and over the rate was 46.8% last year compared to a low of 37.7% in 1993.

In mirror image, the participation rate amongst women has surged since the mid-twentieth century. It peaked at 60.0% in 1999, up from 32.0% just after WWII. For women over 25, the rate now stands a 58.4%, double the rate in 1948. In contrast, the rate for younger women is up but just moderately. It now stands at 54.1% compared to 44.0% in 1948. Women are also staying in the labor force longer. For those aged 55 and older the rate was 35.3% last year versus just 22.0% in 1985. 

The figures referenced above are available in Haver's USECON and EMPL databases. 

Interpreting the Recent Decline in Labor Force Participation from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City is availablehere.

 

Civilian Labor Force Participation (%) Dec 2012 2002 1992 1982 1972 1962
Total  63.6 63.7   66.6 66.4 64.0 60.4 58.8
   Men 70.0 70.2 74.1 75.8 76.7 78.9 82.0
     16 to 24  56.6 56.5 65.5 70.4 72.6 71.2 70.0
     25 and over 72.7 72.9 75.9 77.0 77.8 81.3 84.6
        35-44 90.3 90.7 92.1 93.7 95.3 96.3 97.6
        45-54 85.6 86.0 88.5 90.7 91.3 93.2 95.6
   Women 57.7 57.7 59.6 57.8 52.6 43.9 37.9
     16 to 24 54.1 53.2 61.1 61.8 62.1 52.9 43.2
     25 and over 58.4 58.5 59.4 57.1 50.2 41.3 36.8
        35-44 75.0 74.8 76.4 76.7 68.0 52.0 44.1
        45-54 74.1 74.6 76.0 72.6 61.6 53.8 50.0
close
large image