The labor force is a term used to describe the number of people who are employed and those who are actively looking for work. It includes full-time, part-time, and self-employed workers, as well as those who earn hourly wages, salaries, or contract pay. People who are not part of the labor force include stay-at-home mothers, retirees, students, and those who are not working or looking for work. The labor force participation rate is the labor force as a percentage of the non-institutional civilian population.
Data is also available by demographic characteristics. Discouraged workers are a subgroup of people marginally linked to the workforce, and marginalized people are those who are not part of the workforce but want to work and are available to work. Every August, information is released on the participation of young people aged 16 to 24 in the workforce from April to July. The unemployment rate represents the number of unemployed as a percentage of the labor force.
The term can also be referred to as a civilian workforce because it does not include active military service members or federal workers. The workforce includes anyone over the age of 16 who is looking for work or is currently employed and who is paid for at least one hour in a given period. Layoffs and downsizing can dissuade candidates from applying, so even though they are willing to work, some stop looking for work and effectively withdraw from the workforce. This definition of the workforce is often at odds with colloquial usage, leading non-experts to feel deceived when they realize that millions of discouraged and disabled workers are excluded from the unemployment rate. Being part of the workforce in the United States includes many different types of jobs, people, and conditions. If a person actively chooses not to work, such as a stay-at-home parent, a full-time student, or a retired person, they are not included in the workforce.
Members of the armed forces are excluded from the labor force because it is technically called the civilian workforce. This measure, called the civilian labor force participation rate, rose steadily from 58.6% in early 1965 to a peak of 67.3% in early 2000. Once the unemployment rate is known, it can be used to determine the number of people in the workforce who work compared to those who do not. In short, understanding what constitutes part of the labor force can help you better understand how many people are employed and how many are part of the workforce. It's important to note that this number does not include people who are unemployed and are not looking for employment.