Future of Work

9 charts that could define the future of the US workforce

Morning commuters are seen outside the New York Stock Exchange, July 30, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS) - RTR35NPI

The BLS made projections from 2014 to 2024 Image: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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America's labor force in 2060 could be smaller, older, and more racially diverse than it is now.

In September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Mitra Toossi published charts with projectionsfor the workforce over the next three decades.

To compute their forecast, the BLS made projections from 2014 to 2024, and kept the labor force participation rate constant through 2060. Any changes after 2024 in the labor force, then, mainly reflect shifts in the makeup of the population.

Here are the charts:

Resident population growth is declining.

 Percentage change in U.S. resident population (projected)
Image: Bureau of labor statistics

Immigrants could be a bigger part of the population and the workforce.

Projected share of natural increase of population and immigration in total population change
Image: Bureau of labor statistics

There are two ways the US population grows: natural increase, or the net difference between births and deaths, and immigration. The BLS projects that immigration will be an increasingly important part of population growth in the coming decades. The share of immigrants adding to population growth is forecast to match the natural increase in 2022, and overtake it after then.

Also, the BLS projects that the number of people that will be added to the population because of an influx of immigrants will be nearly double the rate of natural increase.

The labor force is forecast to grow by 29 million people from 2015 to 2060

 Civilian noninstitutional population and labor force is growing
Image: Bureau of labor statistics

The civilian noninstitutional population refers to the share of US residents 16 years and older who are not inmates of institutions like prisons or mental facilities and are not in active military duty.

... but the growth rates are set to be much slower than earlier decades.

 Annual growth rates are declining
Image: Bureau of labor statistics

Aging baby boomers — those between 51 and 69 years old — and falling fertility rates are among the factors that are forecast to cause this decline.

Many economists expect the labor force participation rate to keep falling.

 Labor force participation rates are projected to decline
Image: Bureau of labor statistics

The participation rate, which measures the proportion of the adult population that is either working or looking for work, is already near its lowest level since 1977.

The longer-term decline is expected to be driven by demographics. An analysis by the President's Council of Economic Advisers in August 2015 suggests that about half of the drop since 2008 happened as baby boomers retired, while much of the remaining drop came from the aftereffects of the Great Recession.

The decline could happen across all age groups.

 Labor force participation rates of all age groups are projected to decline
Image: Bureau of labor statistics

People are studying and staying in school longer, postponing their participation in the workforce.

Labor force is getting older
Image: Bureau of labor statistics

The share of aging baby boomers could continue to grow until most of them retire and leave the workforce.

There will be more Hispanic people in the workplace

 Share of Hispanics in the labor force is increasing
Image: Bureau of labor statistics

The labor market is already more diverse as the number of workers who identify as racial and ethnic minorities grows, the BLS said.

It projects that the growth of the Hispanic labor force will outpace the expansion of its non-Hispanic counterpart.

... and there will be fewer white non-Hispanic people.

 Share of white non-Hispanics in the labor force is declining
Image: Bureau of labor statistics

The BLS attributes this projection to a low fertility rate and low migration relative to other racial groups.

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