Despite the gloomy statistics on unemployment rates, there are still people looking for jobs. The labour force participation rate, or LFP, measures how many people are in the labour force, which includes both part-time and full-time workers. While the LFP is not necessarily a good indicator of employment levels, it can still be useful in understanding trends in the labour market.
Part-time vs full-time workers
Approximately one-third of women who are employed work part-time. This rate is higher than the rate of men who work part-time. Many women work part-time because they cannot find full-time employment. Other reasons include school hours, childcare, and family and household responsibilities. Historically, the female labor force participation rate has lagged behind the male rate in the United States. However, over the past three decades, women’s participation has increased.
In 1970, 43.3 percent of women aged 16 and older worked outside of their home. In 2014, nearly six in ten women worked outside of their home.
Part-time work can be voluntary or involuntary. Working part-time reduces a worker’s ability to get health care benefits, receive retirement savings funds, and receive employer contributions to retirement savings funds. The likelihood that the worker will receive employment benefits also decreases.
Over the past five decades, the labor force participation rate for men of prime working age has decreased by about three percentage points. This decline has accelerated since the Great Recession.
Traditionally, forecasters have paid little attention to short-run movements in labour force participation. Several factors make these estimates difficult to predict. In addition, the path of participation varies widely across demographic and socio-economic groups.
The labor force participation rate measures the proportion of a country’s civilian, non-institutional population aged 16 and older who is either working or actively seeking employment. This is a more accurate measure of labour supply than the regular unemployment rate. It is important because it provides a measure of the distribution of labour in a country and can be used for analyzing employment data. It also plays a key role in determining the amount of training and financial planning needed for social security systems.
Labor force participation rates for men and women vary widely. Women tend to leave the labour force in order to care for children and family. During downturns, men generally remain out of the labour force.
Workplace absences due to illness or disability
During the month of January, the number of employed people who missed part of the week or a quarter of their usual working hours rose by a whopping 620,000, a figure that’s almost double the number of workers in the month of December, when the same time period was last studied. Interestingly, youth were more likely to miss part of their normal working hours than adults.
The data also revealed that the most common reason for missing work is vacation. In fact, nearly one in four workers in the services producing sector (accounting for roughly one-fifth of the workforce) took a week off in January. While it’s easy to see why this might be the case, it’s also easy to imagine that the tally of workers on a week off would be even higher, particularly in industries like construction and mining where workers may not be as easily replaced.
While the most obvious reason for missing work is the lack of a job, an employee may also be in need of other forms of accommodation, such as support from colleagues or family members, or outside support from health care professionals. The data also revealed that the number of employees who took off work due to a medical condition in January was the highest on record.
Effects of the pandemic on the labour force
Among the biggest 12 month declines in the post-World War II era, the Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) fell by two percentage points. The LFPR is a measure of the share of the population aged 16 and older that is actively looking for work. It is important for analyzing employment data. It excludes people who are institutionalized, members of the military, and those outside of the ordinary labor market.
Women have made progress in the labor market over the last three decades. However, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a significant drop in the labor force participation rate. The rate fell 1.9 percentage points for Asian women and 3.4 percentage points for Black women.
The most significant decrease among women was in Hispanic and Black women. They accounted for 46% of the total decrease in the labor force participation rate. They also had lower LFPRs than white women.
In addition to the drop in the labor force participation rate, the pandemic caused many businesses to shut down. It also forced vulnerable workers to leave the labor force. The oldest workers and those in low-paying occupations experienced the greatest loss of employment. Many older workers chose to retire early.