Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Millennials in the labor force, projected 2019‒29

| November 2020

Millennials are making their way in the world—and in the labor force.

From 2019 to 2029, the bulk of millennials (often identified as those born between 1981 and 1996) will shift into the 35- to 44-year-olds group. And as the chart shows, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that age group’s labor force size to increase by nearly 4.5 million over the decade, which is the largest gain for a single age group.

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Chart. Numeric change in the civilian labor force by age group, projected 2019–29

Age group

Numeric change, 2019–29

Level, 2019

Level, projected 2029

16- to 24-year-olds

-1,619,000 21,091,000 19,472,000

25- to 34-year-olds

-346,000 37,191,000 36,845,000

35- to 44-year-olds

4,463,000 34,057,000 38,520,000

45- to 54-year-olds

475,000 32,931,000 33,406,000

55- to 64-year-olds

-816,000 27,603,000 26,787,000

65- to 74-year-olds

3,996,000 8,700,000 12,696,000

75-year-olds and older

1,841,000 1,964,000 3,805,000

Note: The civilian labor force excludes active duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces and people who are confined to, or living in, institutions or facilities such as jails, detention centers, and skilled nursing homes.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program.

The labor force is the number of people either working or actively looking for work. By 2029, more than 38.5 million people ages 35 to 44 are expected to fit that definition, outnumbering all other age groups in the labor force.

Millennials are pursuing careers as the baby-boom generation, comprising those born between 1946 and 1964, continues to retire. Baby boomers who remain in the labor force will shift to the two oldest groups (ages 65 to 74 and age 75 and older) for a combined increase of more than 5.8 million over the decade. These oldest age groups are projected to account for about 16.5 million people in the labor force by 2029.

The 45- to 54-year-old labor force age group, which will add the first wave of millennials during the decade, is also projected to increase. All of the other groups (ages 16 to 24, 25 to 34, and 55 to 64) are expected to have decreases in labor force size.

These and other labor force projections data are produced by the Employment Projections program. BLS data by age and other demographic characteristics are available from the Current Population Survey program.

About the Author

Elka Torpey is an economist in the Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections, BLS. She can be reached at torpey.elka@bls.gov .

Suggested citation:

Elka Torpey, "Millennials in the labor force, projected 2019‒29," Career Outlook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, November 2020.

Telephone: 1-202-691-5700 www.bls.gov/careeroutlook Contact Career Outlook

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