The labor force is a key economic indicator that measures the number of people actively employed or seeking employment. It is calculated by adding together the number of employed people and the unemployed people who are actively looking for work. The unemployment rate is then calculated by dividing the number of unemployed people by the total labor force. People are considered employed if they work at least one hour as an employee or in their own business at any time of the week, including the twelfth day of the month.
Employed people are classified by occupation and industry, while unemployed people are classified according to their last job. The labor force participation rate is an important metric for analyzing employment and unemployment data, since it measures the number of people actively seeking employment, as well as those currently employed. This rate is calculated by dividing the labor force by the non-institutional civilian population. Changes in this rate can distort the importance of the unemployment rate, which is a measure of the health of the economy. Economic policies, such as strong labor market regulation and generous social benefit programs, may also tend to decrease labor force participation. For example, the earned income tax credit substantially increases the labor force participation of single mothers without a college degree, but it has only a slight effect on the participation of married women with college degrees. Estimates of the labor force of a country, state, or metropolitan area are seasonally adjusted to account for predictable and non-economic events affecting the level of employment and unemployment.
At the beginning of each year, monthly employment estimates are updated to incorporate revised estimates of non-farm employment and seasonal factors. The labor force is an important indicator for understanding economic conditions and trends. It is used to measure employment levels, unemployment rates, and labor force participation rates. Understanding these metrics can help policymakers make informed decisions about economic policies that affect employment levels and job growth.