Participation Rate Decreases Disproportionately Influenced By People Ages 16-24 and 65 And Older

 In Economy   Last Updated: July 29, 2017

From 1994 to 2014, the labor force participation rate has decreased from 66.6% to 62.9%.

The participation rate is the total number of people with jobs compared to those without jobs, although this number can sometimes be misleading as it categorizes those people who are in school, who are retired, or who are otherwise not looking for jobs as on the “non-participation” side of the labor force.  The unemployment rate on the other hand is only those people looking for work who cannot find a job.

In 1994, 65.8 million people were included in the “non-participation” rate, compared to 92.0 million people in 2014.  This increase of 26.3 million people on the non-participation segment of the workforce is disproportionately influenced by people age 65 and older and people aged 16-24:

  • The group of people aged 65 and older is only 18% of the 2014 total civilian non-institutionalized population aged 16 and older (45.0 million people), but accounts for 36% of new people categorized under non-participation of labor force (9.4 million new people).
  • The group of people ages 16-24 increased by 6.2 million people from 1994 to 2014 from 32.5 million to 38.7 million people, but the labor force in this group went down from 21.6 million people to 21.3 million people (1%) and the non-participation segment increased by 6.5 million people- the non-participation segment of this age group is growing faster than the overall population of this age group.


See below charts for more information.

PARTICIPATION RATE CHANGES (thousands of people)

SOURCE: (See Below Citations)




Civilian Labor Force by Detailed Age, Gender, Race, and Ethnicity.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2017.

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