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December 08, 2005
Labor Force Changes as Older Workers, Women See Gains

The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that from 2004 to 2014 the number of workers aged 55-and-older will grow by 49.1 percent, nearly 5 times the 10 percent growth that it projects for the overall labor force.

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The bureau projects that the civilian labor force will increase by 14.7 million over the 2004-14 decade, reaching 162.1 million by 2014. This 10 percent increase is less than the 12.5-percent increase over the previous decade, 1994-2004, when the labor force grew by 16.3 million.

The labor force will change in composition, as a result of changes in both the composition of the population and in the rates of labor force participation across demographic groups, according to the bureau.

The projected labor force growth will be affected by the aging of the baby-boom generation--those born between 1946 and 1964. In 2014, baby-boomers will be ages 50 to 68 years, and this age group will grow significantly over the 2004-14 period.

Youths--those between the ages of 16 and 24--will decline in numbers and lose share of the labor force, from 15.1 percent in 2004 to 13.7 percent in 2014, according to the bureau. Prime-age workers--those between the ages of 25 and 54-[also will lose share of the labor force, from 69.3 percent in 2004 to 65.2 percent in 2014.

The 55-and-older age group, on the other hand, is projected to gain share of the labor force, from 15.6 percent to 21.2 percent.

Over the 2004-14 period, the number of women in the labor force is projected to grow by 10.9 percent, faster than the 9.1-percent growth projected for men. As a result, women's share of the labor force is expected to increase from 46.4 percent in 2004 to 46.8 percent by 2014. In contrast, men's share is projected to decline from 53.6 percent to 53.2 percent over the decade.

By 2014, the Hispanic labor force is expected to reach 25.8 million, due to faster population growth resulting from a younger population, higher fertility rates, and increased immigration levels. Despite relatively slow growth, whites will remain the largest group, composing 80.2 percent of the labor force. Blacks will constitute 12.0 percent of the labor force. Asians will continue to be the fastest growing race group, climbing to 5.1 percent of the labor force in 2014.

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