Labor force participation rate trivia question

What year was the labor force participation rate last at current levels?

First, the most recent read of the labor force participation rate at the Dec. 6 release of the November figure showed 63%, slightly higher than the October read of 62.8%.

This figure reached to a low of 58.1% in December 1954 and bumped around 58.5%-60% until 1964 when the measure pushed nearly uninterrupted to 67.3% in January 2000.  In the last 13 years, this employment measure has retraced nearly half of that 46 year run.

Answer: the Participation Rate was last at 63% in 1978 (Dire Straits-‘Sultans of Swing’; Rolling Stones-‘Shattered’)

Bonus Question:  Where is the next 2 points in the Participation Rate?  Can the participation rate reach down to 61% or will it return to 65% and why?  We would like to hear your thoughts on this.

The BLS has a December 2013 Monthly Labor Review update on their view that by 2022, the rate will fall to 61.6% with slower employment and population growth.

About the Author

Martin McGuire, managing director at TJM Institutional Services

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