The Breakdown of the Population in 2004
The Bureau of Labor Statistics divides the adult population into three categories: employed, unemployed, and not in the labor force.
This statistic tells us the fraction of the population that has chosen to participate in the labor market. The labor-force participation rate. like the unemployment rate. is computed both for the entire adult population and for more specific groups. To see how these data are computed, consider the figures for 2004. In that year. 139.3 million people were employed, and 8.1 million people were unemployed. The labor force was
Labor force = 139.3 + 8.1 = 147.4 million.
The unemployment rate was
Unemployment rate = (8.1/147.4) X 100 = 5.5 percent.
Because the adult population was 223.4 million. the labor-force participation rate was
Labor-force participation rate = (147.4/223.4) X 100 = 66.0 percent
Hence. in 2004. two-thirds of the U.S. adult population were participating in the labor market. and 5.5 percent of those labor-market participants were without work. Table 1 shows the statistics on unemployment and labor-force participation for various groups within the U.S. population. Three comparisons are most apparent. First. women ages 20 and older have lower rates of labor-force participation than men. but once in the labor force. men and women have similar rates of unemployment. Second, blacks ages 20 and older have similar rates of labor-force participation as whites….
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