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Liars, d**n liars, and statistics

The myth of baby boomers causing the low labor participation rate

There have been several people on here that have indicated that our current low employment participation rate (63%) is due to “baby boomers” leaving the work force.  It seemed a logical theory, so I went to bls.gov and did some data work.  The chart below tells the story of that work.  The chart shows by age-group and year the labor participation percentage from BLS data.  For comparison, baby boomers are defined as being born in 46-64, so their ages would be 50-68, which is not a data set that I could get exactly and easily, so I pulled data around it.

45 plus labor rate Labor Force 45 plus

These two BLS charts show that the number of workers and the percent increased steadily from about 1985.  After 2008 there is a drop of about 2%, but the number of workers in the age group went up by about 5 million, so 2 percent and 5 million is about 100,000 workers.  In 140 million workers that is less than 1 percent.  So I then went out and looked at other age groups at the BLS.  Below is the data I extracted.

Percent Working of Each Population Group

Percent Working of Each Population Group

As the chart shows, the 55-plus age-group percent employment has actually increased over the last 25 years and is pretty unaffected by 2009 et seq as said above.  The two groups that are worst affected (not looking for work) are the 16-17 and 18-19 year olds.  There is also an almost 10 point dip in the 20-24 year old group. The 25-54 is slightly affected.  These are data for both sexes, all races, and all workers.

In short, this is another liberal myth.  The problems in our economy are in the YOUNGER workers not participating in the labor force, not any dramatic change due to boomers.

 

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