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Winter 2009-10 Vol. 53, Number 4

Labor force

The labor force is the number of people aged 16 or older who are either working or looking for work. It does not include active-duty military personnel or institutionalized people, such as prison inmates. Quantifying this total supply of labor is a way of determining how big the economy can get.

The charts show how the labor force is projected to change among age groups, between men and women, among racial groups (Asians, blacks, whites, and others), and among ethnic groups (Hispanics and non-Hispanics of any race).

As in previous years, the labor force is projected to grow more slowly than the number of jobs, but this is not an indication of a labor shortage. Instead, this discrepancy reflects that these two measures are based on different concepts.

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U.S. Department of Labor
Bureau of Labor Statistics

Last Updated: March 18, 2010