Road to the Working Population

Let’s step through the calculation of the previous post. I’ll start with the Bureau of Labor Statistics and their series on the labor participation rate. The unadjusted rate is a single number in the monthly press release. In that table, it is within the column labeled “Percent of Population”. There is a wealth of data within that table, but it is only for a single point in time.

Since I want to look at this number over time, I need to go into the BLS Database and retrieve series LNU01300000. This runs a Java applet and is not linkable.

With the historical data captured, time to turn to the projections. This data comes from the Census Bureau and is located on their Population Projections page.

Range Rate
18 to 24 years 0.6295
25 to 44 years 0.8164
45 to 64 years 0.7179
65 years and over 0.1847

That table shows numerous break outs of the projected population. We will need to combine that with the population participation link from above. There are four
groups that line up nicely. I have put them in the table on the right along with their current participation rate. For my analysis, I had to assume a constant participation rate. While I can accept the population projections from the Census Bureau, there isn’t a source for projected participation rates.

The final chart then becomes a simple weighted average of the population counts and the participation rate. It is useful to note the Census Bureau expects the population to rise from 321 million in 2015 to 420 million in 2060. Even with a declining participation rate, that will result in an increase in the number of workers and the number of people not participating. For now, I am simply interested in the declining participation rate.


Author: dmcnic

Educated as an economist, I now work as an Analytical Professional for a manufacturing firm. I have have a second job as a part-time lecturer at the University of Washington in Bothell. While all baseball interests me, the Mariners are my home town team. Married with one dog.

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