Growing Economy Drives Labor Force Growth

Growing Economy Drives Labor Force Growth

The US civilian labor force is forecast to reach 167 million people in 2022 on annual average growth of less than 1.0%. At the same time, the number of unemployed workers in the labor force is expected to increase by 1.7% annually to 2022.

Defining the Labor Force

The size of the civilian labor force is measured via the Current Population Survey conducted by the US Census Bureau each month. The labor force, as defined for the Current Population Survey, comprises noninstitutionalized persons 16 years of age and older residing in the US who are classified as either employed or unemployed. Homemakers, retirees, seasonal workers interviewed in an off-season who are not actively looking for work, and students are excluded from the civilian labor force. In addition, discouraged workers – those persons not currently searching for work because they believe no jobs are available to them or there are none for which they qualify – are not counted in the civilian labor force.

Historical Trends

Over the decade to 2017, the size of the labor force increased by an average of less than 1.0% annually to 161 million people. The labor force expanded at the fastest annual rate in 2016, at 1.3%, due to strong economic growth from 2014 through 2015. The fastest annual decrease occurred in 2011 (-0.2%), as the 2007-2009 US recession and its aftermath forced many individuals to exit the labor market. The first baby boomers also turned 65 in 2011, and began to qualify for higher social security benefits as retirees.

The Labor Force Grows

The economic growth during 2017 generated a reduction in the unemployment rate of more than 10%. The improvement in the labor market was widespread. Teenage unemployment rates declined, and the level of long-term unemployed individuals continued to shrink, as did the number of workers who stopped looking for work because they were discouraged by their employment prospects.

Learn More

For more insights into the US economy, see Macroeconomy: United States, a report published by the Freedonia Focus Reports division of The Freedonia Group. This report forecasts US gross domestic product and retail sales in nominal and inflation-adjusted (real) US dollars, and the size of the labor force. Nominal and real GDP are segmented by sector in terms of:

  • services personal consumption expenditures (PCE)
  • nondurable goods PCE
  • durable goods PCE
  • nonresidential fixed investment
  • residential fixed investment
  • state and local government spending
  • federal government spending
  • change in private inventories
  • net exports

Nominal and real GDP are also segmented by US region in terms of:

  • South Atlantic (South)
  • West South Central (South)
  • East South Central (South)
  • Pacific (West)
  • Mountain (West)
  • Middle Atlantic (Northeast)
  • New England (Northeast)
  • East North Central (Midwest)
  • West North Central (Midwest)

Nominal retail sales of nondurable and durable goods are segmented by business type as follows:

  • food and beverage stores
  • general merchandisers
  • eating and drinking places
  • gasoline service stations
  • healthcare and drug stores
  • apparel and accessory stores
  • other nondurable good retailers such as flower, pet supply, and stationary outlets
  • automotive dealers
  • general hardware outlets
  • electronic and appliance stores
  • furniture and furnishing outlets
  • other durable good retailers such as book, music, and sporting good stores

While you’re there, check out some of our related reports, which include Demographics: United States, Global Demographics, and World Macroeconomy.

About the Author

Chris Dyer is a Market Research Analyst for Freedonia Focus Reports. He holds a Master of Arts in Security Studies, and his experience as an analyst covers multiple industries.