A Look at the Future of the U.S. Labor Force to 2060

Industry Updates  »  A Look at the Future of the U.S. Labor Force to 2060

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has published an interesting study forecasting the future of the U.S. labor force over the next 50 years.

The study uses historical information and projections from the Census Bureau regarding changing demographics and how these may affect the labor force of the future. The report indicates that overall population growth is declining in the U.S. and will continue to decrease significantly until 2048, and then the rate of growth will remain stable at roughly .45% annually. Currently, the population growth rate is twice that. 

While the natural increase in population (net of births and deaths) will continue to decline, the population increases from immigration will continue to grow. The rate of natural population growth and increases from immigration will be equal by 2020 at 50%-50%. After 2020, the immigrant population growth will outpace natural growth; and by 2050, natural growth will account for only 18% of population increases with immigration accounting for 82%. This will affect the composition of the labor force significantly over the next several decades.

There are a number of trends forecast over the next 50 years regarding the labor force that may have broader economic consequences – one of which is the declining overall labor force participation rate. Total labor force participation has been declining since 2000 and is currently around 62% compared to 67% in 2000. 

Even more interesting is labor force participation for males: in 1950 labor force, participation for males was 86% and is projected to be only 62% by 2050. However, labor force participation is declining for males and females; and if the forecasts prove correct, total labor force participation including both males and females will be only 57% by 2060. 

The changing population will also effect the composition of the labor force over the next 50 years and will include a more racially and ethnically diverse workforce. This will include an increase in of Hispanic workers and a decrease in white, non-Hispanics. The workforce will also become older, largely driven by the aging of the baby-boom population. Hispanics currently comprise 17% of the workforce. This is expected to almost double by 2060 to over 30% of the workforce.

The full report can be found:

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