labor force

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. Because business expansion is difficult during periods of extremely low unemployment, a key economic development question is how much the labor force participation rate may increase — bringing more potential employees to the job market and easing the hiring crunch for employers.

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. Their evidence suggests these impacts are stronger for men without a college education.

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.


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