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November 1997, Vol. 120, No. 11
Every 2 years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics updates its employment outlook for the coming decade. Four articles in this issue present a detailed picture of U.S. employment trends as they are likely to evolve over the next several years. While broadly similar to the projections released in the November 1995 Monthly Labor Review, the revised outlook differs in numerous details concerning the occupational, industrial, and demographic structure of the U.S. work force.
The gradual slowdown in the rate of labor force expansion continues to be one of the fundamental forces shaping the employment outlook. The slowdown is itself a reflection of very long-term swings in fertility and a gradual playing out of the dramatic change in labor force participation, particularly among women, which characterized much of the 70s and 80s and led to such far-reaching social and economic changes. At the same time, immigration has become an increasingly important source of population and labor force growth, moderating to some degree the slowing of population and labor force growth.
Howard Fullerton projects that the labor force will increase by about 15 million persons (or 11 percent) over the next 10 years, reaching 149 million by 2006. (See pages 2338.) By comparison, the labor force expanded by some 16 million persons (or 14 percent) over the past 10 years. While overall change in the labor force will be modest, significant shifts are expected in its demographic structure. Increases will be concentrated among older age groups, as baby-boom cohorts swell the ranks of workers between ages 45 and 64. For the first time in 25 years, the number of young workers (16 to 24) will be growing faster than the overall labor force. Finally, a decline is expected in the number of those in the 25 to 44 year age range over the next 10 years. The net result will be a continuation of the aging of the labor force seen in the previous decade. By 2006, the median age of the labor force will approach 41 years, a level not seen in the United States since the 1960s.
This excerpt is from an article published in the November 1997 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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