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Wed Dec 26, 2012, 11:52 PM

Labor Force Participation At Lowest Point In 3 Decades

http://www.npr.org/2012/12/26/168091111/labor-force-participation-at-lowest-point-in-3-decades?sc=tw&cc=share

The improvement in the unemployment rate in the last year belies the fact that the rate would be so much higher if the number of people in the labor force didn't shrink.

11 replies, 1000 views

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Response to eridani (Original post)

Thu Dec 27, 2012, 12:45 AM

1. Labor force will continue to shrink. The Baby Boomers began retiring at 10,000 per day starting last

January and will continue for the next 18 years. That's 72 million.

Not enough new births nor immigrants to replace even half of them.

Hence, labor force will shrink for at least two decades, making labor more valuable and hence higher at some point.

There should be applause from workers over this, and the uncaring bosses that toss workers away like tissue now should have a bit of fear.

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #1)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 10:29 PM

5. Except from the boomers who were forced to "retire" early,

many of whom also saw chunks of their savings destroyed in the 2008 crash.

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #1)

Mon Dec 31, 2012, 02:19 PM

9. Actually, the labor force, in thousands, has grown (slightly) over the past 4 years and is still

growing (slowly). Just a very minor corrective.

Labor force level, in thousands, http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS11000000 -- It has been essentially flat from a local peak in Oct 2008: 154,875,000 to current (Nov 2012: 155,291,000) -- an increase of just 0.27% over 4 years, or 0.07%/year on average. Before that, the level was growing steadily. Anyway, at that link is a graph as well as the numbers.

Of course, with the population growing faster than 0.07%/year (more exactly, the non-institutionalized, civilian population age 16 and over -- this is the denominator of the labor force participation rate), the labor force participation RATE has declined substantially ( http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS11300000 )

In the above, it is worthwhile to change the "From" pull down box from 2002 to 2001 so as to see the entire G.W. Bush presidency (which began Jan 2001) followed by the Obama presidency up to the present. The labor force participation rate declined under G.W. Bush even before the housing bust began to take its toll.

While I'm at it, the unemployment rate is at: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000


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Response to eridani (Original post)

Thu Dec 27, 2012, 10:05 AM

2. But that's inevitable, given the wave of people at retirement age

If you were born in 1946, in 2012 you turned 66 - SS full retirement age. In 2013 it will be 1947.



The babies did boom, so now retirements must boom.

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Response to eridani (Original post)

Thu Dec 27, 2012, 08:47 PM

3. I suspect the new math. n/t

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Response to eridani (Original post)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 10:28 PM

4. I also wonder whether

it counts all people who might have preferred a steady job but have been trying to piece together livings as freelancers and or consultants, and who have seen their business dry up during the recession.

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Response to snot (Reply #4)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 01:37 AM

6. Yes, it would include those folks as well.

But 10,000 boomers a day for the next 18 years, all retiring at age 65, is the very big number.

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #6)

Mon Dec 31, 2012, 01:27 AM

7. More seniors are working in part-time jobs now

because they were either laid off, their house went down in value, their 401-k has taken a beating in 2009 and never fully recovered, or the high cost of healthcare and energy is making their fixed income inadequate.

The real sad thing is nearly half new college graduates can't find jobs. So how can any one say the reduction in labor force is a choice by the labor force? IMO it is the weak economy.

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Response to golfguru (Reply #7)

Mon Dec 31, 2012, 09:22 AM

8. People with part time jobs are considered employed, and thus in the labor force.

Ditto the self-employed. So people working part-time jobs or being self-employed doesn't explain a drop in the official BLS labor force participation rate statistic.

Your point is well taken though on it being a crappy job market, and seniors having to work beyond their originally planned retirement because of the decline in their financial assets.

Separately, a little stat on the aging workforce that I ran across --

The number of Americans over age 62 increase by 21% between 2000 and 2010, compared to a total population growth of 9.7% --Population Connection Reporter 12/2012

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Response to golfguru (Reply #7)

Mon Dec 31, 2012, 08:37 PM

10. "how can any one say the reduction in labor force is a choice by the labor force?"

"how can any one say the reduction in labor force is a choice by the labor force? IMO it is the weak economy."

I'm sure it is mostly the weak economy. But what some of us are saying is that the reduction in the labor force participation RATE is not entirely due to the economy but partly due to the aging of the population, particularly those age 62 and over. Nobody here has said that aging is the entire reason for the decline in the labor force participation rate.

And actually, the labor force (in thousands) has never been higher, though only slightly above the October 2008 peak (0.27% above).
http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS11000000
(Change the "From" from "2002" to "2008" to see that more clearly in the lovely graph. Then change the "2002" to "2007" for a good view of the last 2 years of Bush to the present)

It's the labor force participation rate, not the labor force (in thousands) that has declined.

Labor force participation rate: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS11300000

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Response to eridani (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 08:56 PM

11. Thanks, SCOTUS!

Citizens United probably went a long way towards putting the final nails in the coffin.

This is truly disgusting.

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