labor force

Organizations unveil fresh approaches to address workforce challenges

In a year that has seen the economy drop off a cliff, unemployment skyrocket and racial discrimination shock the consciousness of a nation, one might think all hope is lost. But there are those who are working to take this moment in time and re-emerge on the other side a stronger, more inclusive nation. As many workers face the prospect of a job that may never return, Americans in a more comfortable position who have been able to shift their work to remote locations have applauded the work of those left on the front lines during the current pandemic. And a realization that the economy wasn’t always working for all, and the American dream was becoming more of a nightmare for large segments of the population, is coalescing into action for better jobs and greater inclusion.

This week, an alliance of workforce partners has begun to release a suite of tools designed to help those who have worked to build their skills through experience, but lack a four-year degree. A recent report reveals how those who have worked to build their skill set have nonetheless experienced stagnant or downward wage trajectories. Turning that tide to a more positive outcome is the driving force behind many in the workforce development field. In this story we look at the efforts of Opportunity@Work and the Center for Workforce and Economic Opportunity at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, both of which are part of Markle’s initiative known as Rework America Alliance.

Women’s progress could be setback decades due to pandemic fallout

As the pandemic turned workplaces upside down, women in particular have been negatively impacted. Women, especially women of color, are more likely to have been laid off or furloughed and the supports that working women relied on, namely school and child care, have been upended.

Employment in 24 states had not fully recovered since Great Recession BEFORE the pandemic, Pew finds

Coming off a holiday that celebrates workers across the country, today’s labor market is struggling to recover from a peak set in 2000. States whose labor market still hadn’t fully recovered from the Great Recession are facing an even greater economic disadvantage from the pandemic.

$2.5 million accelerator fund to invest in community colleges

A new Community College Growth Engine Fund is being launched by Education Design Lab to help mitigate the growing skills gap and strengthen community colleges as drivers of innovation between education and employment. Education Design Lab is a national nonprofit that designs, implements and scales new learning models for higher education and the future of work.

Women leading increase in labor force participation rate

While the labor force participation rate of prime-age individuals (age 25 to 54) remains below its pre-recession level, it has been increasing since 2015. A recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City found that college-educated women have made the largest contribution to this recovery.

Useful stats: Labor force participation and employment by state and metro status, 2013-2017

The U.S. unemployment rate is near its 50-year low, but the portion of the population in the labor force is also near a 40-year low.

New evidence for opioids’ impacts on employment rates

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland has released a working paper that establishes connections between opioid prescription rates and employment rates. The authors use longitudinal data, as well as leveraging the Great Recession as a sort of natural experiment, to provide evidence that opioids not only relate to declining labor force participation, but have likely caused this outcome.

Recent Research: Exploring where the workers have gone

An earlier SSTI analysis detailed the Bureau of Labor Statistics labor force participation projections, revealing a continuing downward trend in the number of workers despite a growing population. Additional research papers released in February from economists at the University of Maryland as well as the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank explores the reasons behind the trend, finding that trade and robots have had a significant impact, and suggests that some prime-age workers may not be coming back.

Useful Stats: Labor force participation by state; overall rate continues decline

An aging, more diverse workforce is what the Bureau of Labor Statistics foresees in the coming decade, with a declining participation rate, which may in turn restrict economic growth. The new projections released this week echo the downward trend in the rate of labor force participation since the peak of 67.3 percent in early 2000. While recent trends show an increasing level of participation among the 55+ crowd, there has been a decreasing level of participation among 16 to 24-year-olds as school enrollment has increased, as well as a continuing decline among the prime working-age cohort of 25 to 54-year-olds.

An SSTI analysis of the labor force participation rate of the prime age workers for each state revealed a great amount of variation among the states. The map below shows the participation rate for this cohort averaged out over 2014-2016 to account for yearly fluctuations.

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