What is the Labor Force and How is it Measured?

The labor force is the sum of employed and unemployed people who are actively looking for work. It is calculated by dividing the total labor force (employed plus unemployed) by the total non-institutionalized civilian population. The labor force participation rate is the labor force as a percentage of the non-institutionalized civilian population. Data is also available by demographic characteristics.

The labor force does not include people who are unemployed and are not looking for employment, such as students and retirees. People who want a job but are not currently looking for one are not considered part of the workforce either. To be considered part of the workforce, you must be available, willing to work, and have recently sought a job. Workforce estimates for all states, including Illinois, are developed under a federal-state cooperative program known as Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS).

This page contains information on labor force data on the characteristics of employed and unemployed people and of people who are not part of the workforce. Labor force estimates, including unemployment rates, are among the most requested types of labor market information. With the aging of the population, lower labor force participation rates, and the decline in population growth rates, the labor force will grow more slowly than in recent decades. Layoffs and downsizing can completely discourage candidates from applying, so even if they are willing to work, some stop looking for work and are effectively retiring from the workforce.

The component of the unemployed entering the labor force is broken down according to the annual proportion between the county and the AML of the population, made up of young people (16 to 1 years old) and adults (20 years of age or older). Every August, information is released on the participation of young people aged 16 to 24 in the workforce from April to July. The United States has a mobile, highly skilled workforce that responds quickly to changing business needs. The labor force estimates for the country, the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and seven metropolitan areas are seasonally adjusted to account for predictable and non-economic events affecting the level of employment and unemployment.

The size of the workforce depends not only on the number of adults, but also on how likely they are to feel they can get a job. See also Not in the workforce.

Marlene Barcelo
Marlene Barcelo

Avid social media aficionado. Friendly burrito fan. Wannabe music trailblazer. Subtly charming organizer. Passionate tv aficionado.

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