Here are five ways in which the U.S. workforce has changed since the onset of the Great Recession.
- A smaller share of Americans are in the labor force. In December 2007, two-thirds (66.0%) of civilians ages 16 and over either were employed or actively looking for work; as of October of this year, only 62.7% were. The labor force participation rate, as it’s called, fell steadily throughout the Great Recession and well into the subsequent recovery. It bottomed out at a seasonally adjusted 62.4% in September 2015 and has risen only slightly since then.
- The workforce is getting more diverse. U.S.-born non-Hispanic whites comprised nearly two-thirds of the civilian labor force in December 2007 (65.3%, not seasonally adjusted); as of last month, that subgroup accounted for about 60% of the labor force. The foreign born now account for 17.1% of the U.S. labor force, up from 15.6% in December 2007, with Asian immigrants making up a significant portion of the increase.
- There’s more gray in the workforce. Americans ages 55 and older make up more than a fifth of the total labor force today (22.8%, seasonally adjusted), compared with 17.6% at the start of the Great Recession. Over the past decade, in fact, labor force participation has risen only among the 55-and-older contingent – from a seasonally adjusted 38.9% in December 2007 to 39.8% last month.
- Unemployed people are out of work for longer. After soaring as high as 10.0% in October 2009, the overall unemployment rate has ratcheted down to a seasonally adjusted 4.1%, its lowest level since 2000. However, not only is a smaller share of the adult population in the active labor force, but people who are unemployed are more likely to stay jobless for longer.
- The shift toward service jobs continues, though more slowly. Today, 83.9% of all private-sector nonfarm jobs are classified as service-providing, up from 81.1% a decade ago, while the share of jobs in goods-producing sectors – mining, logging, construction and manufacturing – fell from 18.9% in December 2007 to 16.1% in October.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at How the workforce changed since the Great Recession began | Pew Research Center