Department of Labor Logo United States Department of Labor
Dot gov

The .gov means it's official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you're on a federal government site.

Https

The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Women and aging affect trends in labor force growth

July 27, 2020

Labor force growth is an important component of economic growth. Two demographic shifts have affected the U.S. labor force: changes in women’s participation and the growth of older age groups.

Labor force participation rate, by sex
Year Total Men Women

1958

59.5% 84.2% 37.1%

1959

59.3 83.7 37.1

1960

59.4 83.3 37.7

1961

59.3 82.9 38.1

1962

58.8 82.0 37.9

1963

58.7 81.4 38.3

1964

58.7 81.0 38.7

1965

58.9 80.7 39.3

1966

59.2 80.4 40.3

1967

59.6 80.4 41.1

1968

59.6 80.1 41.6

1969

60.1 79.8 42.7

1970

60.4 79.7 43.3

1971

60.2 79.1 43.4

1972

60.4 78.9 43.9

1973

60.8 78.8 44.7

1974

61.3 78.7 45.7

1975

61.2 77.9 46.3

1976

61.6 77.5 47.3

1977

62.3 77.7 48.4

1978

63.2 77.9 50.0

1979

63.7 77.8 50.9

1980

63.8 77.4 51.5

1981

63.9 77.0 52.1

1982

64.0 76.6 52.6

1983

64.0 76.4 52.9

1984

64.4 76.4 53.6

1985

64.8 76.3 54.5

1986

65.3 76.3 55.3

1987

65.6 76.2 56.0

1988

65.9 76.2 56.6

1989

66.5 76.4 57.4

1990

66.5 76.4 57.5

1991

66.2 75.8 57.4

1992

66.4 75.8 57.8

1993

66.3 75.4 57.9

1994

66.6 75.1 58.8

1995

66.6 75.0 58.9

1996

66.8 74.9 59.3

1997

67.1 75.0 59.8

1998

67.1 74.9 59.8

1999

67.1 74.7 60.0

2000

67.1 74.8 59.9

2001

66.8 74.4 59.8

2002

66.6 74.1 59.6

2003

66.2 73.5 59.5

2004

66.0 73.3 59.2

2005

66.0 73.3 59.3

2006

66.2 73.5 59.4

2007

66.0 73.2 59.3

2008

66.0 73.0 59.5

2009

65.4 72.0 59.2

2010

64.7 71.2 58.6

2011

64.1 70.5 58.1

2012

63.7 70.2 57.7

2013

63.2 69.7 57.2

2014

62.9 69.2 57.0

2015

62.7 69.1 56.7

2016

62.8 69.2 56.8

2017

62.9 69.1 57.0

2018

62.9 69.1 57.1

2019

62.7 68.8 57.0

2020

62.5 68.4 56.9

2021

62.3 68.1 56.9

2022

62.1 67.8 56.8

2023

61.9 67.4 56.7

2024

61.7 67.1 56.6

2025

61.6 66.8 56.6

2026

61.4 66.6 56.6

2027

61.3 66.3 56.5

2028

61.2 66.1 56.6

Note: Values for 2019–28 are projected.

Over much of the second half of the 20th century, women’s labor force participation increased dramatically. At the beginning of the 21st century, women’s participation declined; however, in recent years, it has flattened. BLS projects the women’s labor force participation rate to remain about the same in 2028, at 56.6 percent.

Labor force participation rate by select age group
Participation Rate 16-54 55-64 65+

1988

79.3% 54.6% 11.5%

1998

80.0 59.3 11.9

2008

77.5 64.5 16.8

2018

75.8 65.0 19.6

2028 Projected

75.0 67.9 23.3

The percentage of the population in older age groups is projected to increase. Since older people are less likely to be in the labor force, the overall labor force participation rate may likely decline, even though the labor participation rate for older workers (65 and older) is projected to increase.

These data are from the Employment Projections program. For more information, see the Spotlight on Statistics article "How Women and Aging Affect Trends in Labor Force Growth."

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Women and aging affect trends in labor force growth on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2020/women-and-aging-affect-trends-in-labor-force-growth.htm (visited August 11, 2020).

OF INTEREST
spotlight

Recent editions of Spotlight on Statistics

triangle