Work Experience Summary

For release 10:00 a.m. (EST) Tuesday, December 5, 2017                       USDL-17-1614

Technical information: (202) 691-6378  *  *
Media contact:         (202) 691-5902  *

                           WORK EXPERIENCE OF THE POPULATION -- 2016

A total of 163.6 million persons worked at some point during 2016, the U.S. Bureau of
Labor Statistics reported today. The proportion of the civilian noninstitutional
population age 16 and over who worked at some time during 2016 was 64.3 percent, little
changed from 2015. The number of persons who experienced some unemployment during 2016
declined by 1.4 million to 15.6 million.

These data are based on information collected in the Annual Social and Economic
Supplement (ASEC) to the Current Population Survey (CPS). The CPS is a monthly survey
conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The ASEC
collects information on employment and unemployment experienced during the prior
calendar year. Additional information about the CPS and the ASEC, including concepts
and definitions, is provided in the Technical Note.

Highlights from the 2016 data:

   --The proportion of workers who worked full time, year round in 2016 was 68.8 percent,
     up 0.8 percentage point from the prior year. (See table 1.)

   --The "work-experience unemployment rate"--defined as the number of persons unemployed
     at some time during the year as a proportion of the number of persons who worked
     or looked for work during the year--declined by 0.8 percentage point to 9.4 percent
     in 2016. (See table 3.)

   --About 2.6 million individuals looked for a job but did not work at all in 2016,
     down from 3.2 million in 2015. (See table 3.)

Persons with Employment

Overall, 64.3 percent of the population worked in 2016, little different from 64.2
percent in 2015. The proportions of men and women who worked at some time during 2016
were 70.0 percent and 59.0 percent, respectively. These proportions showed little or no
change from the prior year. (See table 1.) 

The proportion of Blacks (61.9 percent) who worked at some time during 2016 increased 
by 1.3 percentage points from 2015, while the shares of Whites (64.6 percent), 
Asians (64.8 percent), and Hispanics (66.1 percent) showed little change. (See table 2.)

Among those with work experience in 2016, 79.8 percent usually worked full time, little
changed from a year earlier. In 2016, men (85.8 percent) continued to be more likely than
women (73.1 percent) to work full time during the year. These proportions were little
changed from the prior year. Among those who worked at some point in 2016, Asians (83.0
percent) were more likely to work full time than Whites (79.6 percent), Blacks (80.7
percent), and Hispanics (81.0 percent). (See tables 1 and 2.)

Of the total who worked during 2016, 79.4 percent were employed year round (working 50
to 52 weeks, either full or part time), up from 78.6 percent in 2015. In 2016, the
percentages of both men (81.8 percent) and women (76.8 percent) working year round
increased from a year earlier. (See table 1.)

Persons with Unemployment

Overall, 166.2 million persons worked or looked for work at some time in 2016, up by
726,000 from the prior year. Of those, 15.6 million experienced some unemployment during
2016, down by 1.4 million from 2015. (See table 3.)

The work-experience unemployment rate (those looking for work during the year as a percent
of those who worked or looked for work during the year) continued to decline. At 9.4
percent in 2016, the work-experience unemployment rate was 0.8 percentage point lower
than in 2015. The work-experience unemployment rates for Whites (8.8 percent), Blacks
(13.1 percent), and Hispanics (11.1 percent) declined from 2015 to 2016, while the rate
for Asians (7.3 percent) was unchanged. (See tables 3 and 4.)

In 2016, men continued to have a slightly higher work-experience unemployment rate than
women, 9.5 percent versus 9.2 percent. Among Blacks, the rate for men was higher than the
rate for women, while among Whites, Asians, and Hispanics, the rates for men and women
were little different from each other.

Among those who experienced unemployment in 2016, the median number of weeks spent looking
for work was 14.5. The number of persons who looked for a job but did not work at all in
2016 declined by 584,000 over the year to 2.6 million. Of the 13.0 million individuals who
both worked and experienced unemployment in 2016, 22.1 percent had two or more spells
of unemployment, little different than the share in 2015. (See table 3.)

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Last Modified Date: December 05, 2017