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November 1991, Vol. 114, No. 11
Labor force projections: the baby boom moves on
Howard N Fullerton, Jr.
By 2005, the labor force-those working or Fullerton, Jr. looking for work-is projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to number 151 million, an increase of 26 million from 1990.1 This figure represents a projected increase of 21 percent, a slowing from the increase of 33 percent over the previous 15-year period, 1975 to 1990, when the labor force grew by 31 million.
In addition to this slowing of labor force growth, important changes in the composition of the labor force are projected. The number of young people (aged 16 to 24 years) in the labor force is projected to grow by 2.8 million, an increase of 13 percent, considerably less than the overall growth rate of the labor force. (See table 1.) Still, this increase would represent a turnaround for young people over what they experienced during the 1975-90 period, when their numbers in the labor force dropped by 1.4 million. The Bureau also projects that the number of those aged 55 and over in the labor force will grow by 6.7 million, twice the rate of increase of the total labor force, as the younger population the over-55 age group increases. As a group, baby-boomers are projected to continue adding members to the labor force through the turn of the century, although their share of the labor force peaked in 1985.
Other important changes in the composition of the labor force projected by BLS include a 26-percent increase in the women's labor force, somewhat more than the increase in the overall labor force. However, this rate of growth is slower than that between 1975 and 1990, when the number of women in the labor force grew by 51 percent. The number of men in the labor force is projected to increase by 11 million over the period 1990-2005, but this figure represents a change of just 16 percent, less than the overall growth of the labor force.
This excerpt is from an article published in the November 1991 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 civilian labor force consists of employed and unemployed persons and does not include any Armed Forces personnel. Data for this series is gathered from the Current Population Survey, conducted by the Bureau of the Census for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Estimates from the Current Population Survey reflect the 1980 Census of Population, and it is these estimate upon which numbers for the 1990 labor force are based.
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