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November 1995, Vol. 118, No. 11
The 2005 labor force: growing, but slowly
Howard N Fullerton, Jr.
By 2005, the number of persons working Jr. or looking for work, is expected to reach 147 million, an increase of 16 million from 1994, according to the latest projections of the labor force made by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.1 This 12-percent rate of increase is slower than the 16-percent increase over the previous 11-year period, 1982 to 1993, when the labor force grew by 18 million. BLS projections show that the labor force increase in numerical terms also will be much smaller in the projected period than in the corresponding historic period.
The rate of growth in the women's labor force is expected to slow down, but it will still increase at a faster rate than that of men. (See table 1.) This slower rate of projected labor force growth is most prominent among young women. Women, as a result of a faster rate of growth than men, are projected to represent a slightly greater portion of the labor force in 2005 than in 1994 - increasing from 46 to 48 percent. The number of men in the labor force is projected to grow, but at a slower rate than in the past as labor force participation for men in most age groups is projected to continue declining. The projected labor force growth will be affected by the aging of the baby-boom generation, those born between 1946 and 1964: at ages 45 to 64, this cohort is expected to show the most labor force growth. The different race or Hispanic origin groups have shown - and are projected to continue to show widely varied growth rates because of divergent rates of population growth in the past.
Making projections is not an exact science; consequently, to indicate the range of uncertainty, BLS prepares alliterative - low, moderate, and high projections.2 Under these alternatives, the work force in 2005 varies from 144 million to 153 million. This range reflects different assumptions about changes in labor force participation rates and in the likely level of immigration. This article focuses primarily on the middle or moderate projection-in which the labor force is expected to total 147 million - and represents a third look at the 2005 labor force by BLS.3 The BLS projections are based on Bureau of Census projections of the population and BLS projections of labor force participation.4
This article describes the demographic labor force projections, made by BLS for 136 age, sex, race, or Hispanic origin groups composing the future labor force.5 Changes in the labor force are explored because of labor force participation rate or population changes. This article also examines dynamics of the changes resulting from persons entering, leaving, or staying in the labor force; factors leading to changes in the composition of the labor force. Finally, this article reviews the demographic consequences of projected changes in the composition of the labor force.
This excerpt is from an article published in the November 1995 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 For the most recent evaluation of BLS labor force projections, see Howard N Fullerton, Jr., "An evaluation of labor force projections to 1990," Monthly Labor Review, August 1992, pp. 3-14.
2 The projections presented here replace those described by Howard N Fullerton, Jr., in "Another look at the labor force," Monthly Labor Review, November 1993, pp. 31-40. BLS routinely reviews and revises its economic and employment projections every 2 years.
3 The projections presented here replace those described by Howard N Fullerton, Jr., in "Another look at the labor force," Monthly Labor Review, November 1993, pp. 31-40. BLS routinely reviews and revises its economic and employment projections every 2 years.
4 "Population Projections of the United States, by Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin: 1995 to 2050," Current Population Reports, Series P-25, No. 1130 (U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, 1995). The population projections are based on estimates derived from the 1990 Census of Population and reflect findings from the 1990 Census of Population. They are not adjusted for the undercount.
5 The race and Hispanic origin categories correspond to those promulgated the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, Directive No. 15, 1978. For a discussion of these categories, see Juanita Tamayo Lott, "Do United States Racial/Ethnic Categories Still Fit?" Population Today, January 1993, pp. 6-7, 9.
How accurate are recent BLS occupational projections? 1991 Oct. 37-43.
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