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Career guides guide
Tomorrow's Jobs
Labor Force

Guide Sections
» Population
» Labor Force
» Education & Training
» Employment
» Industry
» Occupation
» Total Job Openings

Population is the single most important factor in determining the size and composition of the labor force - that is, people who are either working or looking for work. The civilian labor force is projected to increase by 17.4 million, or 12 percent, to 162.3 million over the 2002-12 period.

The U.S. workforce will become more diverse by 2012. White, non-Hispanic persons will continue to make up a decreasing share of the labor force, falling from 71.3 percent in 2002 to 65.5 percent in 2012. However, despite relatively slow growth, white, non-Hispanics will remain the largest group in the labor force in 2012. Hispanics are projected to account for an increasing share of the labor force by 2012, growing from 12.4 to 14.7 percent. By 2012, Hispanics will constitute a larger proportion of the labor force than will blacks, whose share will grow from 11.4 percent to 12.2 percent. Asians will continue to be the fastest growing of the four labor force groups.

The numbers of men and women in the labor force will grow, but the number of women will grow at a faster rate than the number of men. The male labor force is projected to grow by 10 percent from 2002 to 2012, compared with 14.3 percent for women. As a result, menís share of the labor force is expected to decrease from 53.5 to 52.5 percent, while womenís share is expected to increase from 46.5 to 47.5 percent.

The youth labor force, aged 16 to 24, is expected to slightly decrease its share of the labor force to 15 percent by 2012. The primary working age group, between 25 and 54 years old, is projected to decline from 70.2 percent of the labor force in 2002 to 65.9 percent by 2012. Workers 55 and older, on the other hand, are projected to increase from 14.3 percent to 19.1 percent of the labor force between 2002 and 2012, due to the aging of the baby-boom generation.

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Data Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2004-05 Edition