Labor force participation rates projected to decline over the next decade
November 01, 2017
After reaching its historical peak at 67.1 percent in 2000, the labor force participation rate for all workers (age 16 and over) is projected to decline to 61.0 percent in 2026. The decline in the rate is largely the result of the aging population, as more and more workers move into higher age groups that tend to have lower participation rates. The overall labor force participation rate has been declining since 2000, dropping sharply following the 2007–09 recession and reaching 62.8 percent in 2016.
|Age group||1996||2006||2016||Projected 2026|
16 years and older
16 to 24 years
25 to 54 years
55 years and older
The continued shift of the population into older age groups will have long-lasting effects on the labor force and the overall labor force participation rate. In 1996, the entire baby-boom generation was in the 25-to-54-year-old group, with a labor force participation rate of 83.8 percent. In 2001, the first of the baby boomers moved into the 55-and-older age group.
Although the 25-to-54-year-old group shows the strongest attachment to the labor market, its participation rate has been gradually declining since 2000 and is expected to change little over the coming decade. The participation rates of both 16-to-19-year-olds and 20-to-24-year-olds have decreased sharply over the past several decades. Their rates are expected to decline further, although at a slower rate.
These data are from the BLS Employment Projections program. For more information, see “Projections overview and highlights, 2016–26,” by T. Alan Lacey, Mitra Toossi, Kevin S. Dubina, and Andrea B. Gensler, Monthly Labor Review.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Labor force participation rates projected to decline over the next decade on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2017/labor-force-participation-rates-projected-to-decline-in-the-coming-decade.htm (visited July 15, 2019).
Recent editions of Spotlight on Statistics
- 25 years of Worker Injury, Illness, and Fatality Case Data
Examines detailed historical data on work-related injuries, illnesses, and fatal injuries.
- Occupational employment projections through the perspective of education and training
Examines employment, projected employment growth, and wages for occupations with different education and training requirements.
- Workers in Alternative Employment Arrangements
A look at independent contractors, on-call workers, temporary help agency workers, and workers provided by contract firms.
- Labor force characteristics of people with a disability
Examines the labor force characteristics of people with a disability and compares them with the characteristics of people with no disability.