Update on the Labor Force Participation Rate

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This article is an update on the labor force participation rate (LFPR), adding information through November, 2012. In July I posted a long article about the LFPR. If anything, the situation has gotten worse.  Let’s look at some updated data and graphs.

The two youngest groups (16-24, 25-34) continue their downward trend:

LFPR, ages 16 to 24

LFPR, ages 16 to 24

 

LFPR, ages 25 to 34

LFPR, ages 25 to 34

The data for 2012 covers the first three quarters of 2012.  The 25-34 age group stayed just about constant compared to 2011: 81.52% in 2012 vs. 81.53% in 2011.  To get some perspective on the 16-24 group, here’s the annual data for the last five years:

Year Participation rate
2000 65.81%
2001 64.57%
2002 63.28%
2003 61.55%
2004 61.13%
2005 60.76%
2006 60.60%
2007 59.42%
2008 58.79%
2009 56.87%
2010 55.18%
2011 54.98%
2012 54.71%

That’s a decrease of 11.11 percentage points.  Once again, it is even clearer that we are losing a generation of workers.  Economists know that getting a job for the first time is one of the best predictors of long-term career success.

There is one canard that needs to be dealt with as soon as possible. Some comments in the press have alleged that the decline in the LFPR has been caused by people in my generation retiring.  Luckily I have the data for the 65 and older age group:

LFPR, ages 65 and older

LFPR, ages 65 and older

Quite the obvious.  Not only are we not retiring, we’re re-entering the labor force.

I’m preparing a much longer piece that will investigate issues around discouraged workers and others marginally attached to the labor force (as the BLS puts it).  Stay tuned.