Friday, February 3, 2012

Different This Time Redux - Labor Force Declines

First posted on this back in February of last year:
Different This Time - More on Labor Force Declines

Here is the update with another year of annual data from BLS Series LNU00000000, LNU01000000 and LNU05000000:

In summary, it is clearly different this time, as only 2009, 2010 and 2011 year over year changes show consecutive declines in the size of the labor force and consecutive year over year increases in the not in labor force greater than the increases in population. The pace of the change suggests more than demographics to me, and as Barry R. says, "What say ye?"


tekewin said...

Something is happening. One idea is that our labor forced maxed out after the last woman that wanted to work started working. Combined with increasing productivity, our labor force may have peaked.

Maybe we don't need as many people working to support everyone else. That might create some additional wealth distribution problems.

energyecon said...


That is a good hypothesis - I wonder what are the relative contributions of demographic factors vs. structural changes to the economy - now how do we find the data to figure that out?!

Scott said...

appreciate the post, ee. relative to your question "now how do we find the data to figure that out", and the NFP blogosphere firestorm; there's no way to pin down the "real" number with limited data collection tools available. BLS adjustments are nothing new. This is a very rough estimate at best. Because of that all sides of the debate can make plausible assertions about what it means.

It's really only useful in long hindsight; which does have some relevance. That is the unadjusted number is somewhere in the ballpark, and the 30 million increase in population allow us to say with confidence that the growth in labor force has been grossly inadequate relative to population growth.

Stacey said...
This comment has been removed by the author. said...

If you are short the market now because you expect the bad economy to continue, better go for alternative investments. Recovery is real this time.

Unknown said...

I'm blown away by the material on this site-- and I'm not going to spam you.

In the first graph, do you have any idea why the civilian population spiked? Immigration? Better/different numbers due to the census?

The trend will probably continue as baby boomers age out of the workforce.

--Disempowered Paper Pusher