Employment - Statistics & Facts

Employment - Statistics & Facts

Statistics and facts about Employment

771 The employment situation in a country can be described by a number of indicators. The most common one is certainly the unemployment rate which describes the share of the labor force that is currently and involuntarily without a job. Other indicators include the absolute size of the labor force, the labor force participation rate, and the employment to population ratio. The labor force is defined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as the subset of Americans who have jobs or are seeking a job, are at least 16 years old, are not serving in the military, and are not institutionalized.

In 2013, the U.S. labor force comprised 155.39 million people. Until 2009, the civilian labor force participation rate in the U.S., e.g. the share of the American working-age population that participates in the job market, had constantly been above 66 percent since 1990, on an annual basis. In the aftermath of the financial crisis, it dropped to 65.4 percent in 2009 and further to 63.2 percent in 2013. The monthly labor force participation rate reached 62.8 percent in August 2014. A participation rate this low was last reported in the early 1980s when female labor force participation was still significantly lower. It is noteworthy that a low labor force participation rate has a positive effect on the U.S. unemployment rate.

People that have given up looking for job opportunities (and have thus left the labor force) are no longer categorized as unemployed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics' definition of unemployment. Hence, a broader definition of unemployment would most likely result in significantly higher unemployment rates during long lasting economic downtimes. An indicator that can be used to avoid such ambiguity is the employment to population ratio. This ratio, otherwise known as the employment rate, is derived by dividing the number of employed people by the working-age population. The employment rate in the U.S. was 58.6 percent in 2013, down from a pre-recession level of around 63 percent.

A 2013 industry ranking, by level of employment in the United States, shows that most jobs were situated within the education and health services industry. 32.5 million Americans were employed in schools, hospitals, or similar institutions. Almost 20 million worked in wholesale or retail trade and around 15 million people held manufacturing jobs. Public administration was tenth on the list with roughly seven million Americans working in public administration or government jobs.

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