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July 1984, Vol. 107, No. 7
The changing composition of the military
and the effect on labor force data
January 1983 marked the 10th anniversary of the all-volunteer Armed Forces; since the end of the draft, important changes in the size and demographic composition of the military have occurred. These changes have implications for the analysis of labor force statistics, which have traditionally focused on civilians. Recognizing that this distinction is increasingly archaic in the context of an armed force that competes in the job market for its work force, beginning in January 1983, the Bureau of Labor Statistics began to count domestic military personnel as employed members of the aggregate labor force.1 The data cited in this article incorporate the total (foreign and domestic) military population. Roughly 80 percent of military personnel are stationed in the United States.
This article examines some of the changes that have occurred in the military as a result of the advent of the all-volunteer Armed Forces. Trends in labor force data which include individuals in the military are compared with traditional statistics that measure the civilian labor market.
Demographic changes in the composition of the military in recent years affect the analysis of labor force trends based on the civilian population alone. The effect is greatest for males, ages 16 to 24, a group that makes up roughly 50 percent of the Armed Forces. As measured by civilian employment-to-population ratios and unemployment rates, the labor market experience of nonwhites has worsened considerably relative to that of whites in recent years. The analysis indicates, however, that roughly 30 percent of the relative decline can be attributed to changes in the demographic composition of the military alone.
This excerpt is from an article published in the July 1984 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 The Bureau has historically published total labor force figures for the overall population, including the military, and made them available for specific age groups.
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