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Labor force participation increased by education level for baby boomers born from 1957 to 1964

August 30, 2023

People born from 1957 to 1964, the latter years of the baby boom, were employed 78 percent of all the weeks from ages 18 to 56. They were unemployed for 4 percent of those weeks and not in the labor force (neither working nor seeking work) for 18 percent of those weeks.

Percent of weeks individuals were employed, unemployed, or not in the labor force from ages 18 through 56 in 1978-2020 by sex and educational attainment
Characteristic Employed Unemployed Not in labor force

Total

77.8 4.4 17.8

Less than a high school diploma

58.8 7.1 34.1

High school graduates, no college

75.6 5.5 19.0

Some college or associate degree

78.9 4.1 17.1

Bachelor's degree and higher

84.8 2.3 12.9

Men

83.4 4.8 11.8

Less than a high school diploma

68.1 8.1 23.8

High school graduates, no college

81.5 6.0 12.5

Some college or associate degree

85.9 4.1 10.0

Bachelor's degree and higher

89.0 2.4 8.6

Women

72.0 3.9 24.1

Less than a high school diploma

45.6 5.7 48.7

High school graduates, no college

68.3 4.9 26.8

Some college or associate degree

73.4 4.1 22.6

Bachelor's degree and higher

80.7 2.2 17.1

The amount of time spent out of the labor force differed by sex. Overall, men spent 12 percent of weeks out of the labor force, compared with 24 percent of weeks for women.

Both women's and men's labor force participation increased with their education level, though women at every educational level spent fewer weeks in the labor force than men. Women without a high school diploma spent nearly half (49 percent) of all weeks between ages 18 to 56 out of the labor force compared to 24 percent of weeks for men at this education level. Among those with a bachelor’s degree and higher, women were out of the labor force 17 percent of weeks and men spent 9 percent of weeks out of the labor force.

The labor force participation rate patterns of men and women were similar across age groups. For both men and women, time spent out of the labor force was greatest between the ages of 18 and 24, reflecting the transition from education and training to the work force.

Percent of weeks individuals were employed, unemployed, or not in the labor force from ages 18 through 56 in 1978-2020 by sex and age
Characteristic Employed Unemployed Not in labor force

Total

77.8 4.4 17.8

Ages 18 to 24

68.3 7.9 23.8

Ages 25 to 34

80.2 4.0 15.8

Ages 35 to 44

82.7 3.1 14.2

Ages 45 to 56

77.9 3.8 18.3

Men

83.4 4.8 11.8

Ages 18 to 24

72.8 8.8 18.3

Ages 25 to 34

88.6 4.4 7.0

Ages 35 to 44

88.9 3.2 7.9

Ages 45 to 56

82.5 4.2 13.3

Women

72.0 3.9 24.1

Ages 18 to 24

63.5 6.9 29.6

Ages 25 to 34

71.6 3.5 24.8

Ages 35 to 44

76.4 3.0 20.6

Ages 45 to 56

73.1 3.4 23.5

For women, time spent out of the labor force decreased from 30 percent of weeks between the ages of 18 and 24; to 25 percent of weeks between the ages of 25 and 34; to 21 percent of weeks between the ages of 35 and 44; and then increased to 24 percent of weeks between the ages of 45 and 56. Men were out of the labor force 18 percent of weeks between the ages of 18 to 24, and then fewer than 8 percent of weeks from ages 25 to 44. From ages 45 to 56, men spent 13 percent of weeks out of the labor force.

These data are from the National Longitudinal Surveys. To learn more, see “Number of Jobs, Labor Market Experience, Marital Status, and Health for those Born 1957-1964.” The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 consists of men and women who were born in the years 1957-64 and were ages 14 to 22 when first interviewed in 1979. These individuals were ages 55 to 64 in 2020-21.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Labor force participation increased by education level for baby boomers born from 1957 to 1964 at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2023/labor-force-participation-increased-by-education-level-for-baby-boomers-born-from-1957-to-1964.htm (visited April 15, 2024).

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