A Closer Look

The Great Recession in US – 5 Ways how the workforce has changed

Here are five ways in which the U.S. workforce has changed since the onset of the Great Recession.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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

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