A couple of days ago I discussed jobs, outsourcing and insourcing. Is it hard for Americans to find jobs? Compared to what? I guess historical patterns should be looked at. We could just look at unemployment rates. But that only looks at the number of people out of work relative to the labor force. And you have to be trying to find a job to be in the labor force. So if you gave up looking (became a discouraged worker) you are not even part of the equation. So the data below includes the labor force participation rate.
In 1969, the unemployment rate in the United States was 3.5% But the labor force participation rate (LFP) was just 60.1%. Right now the unemployment rate (UE) is higher, at 4.4% (as of Sept-it will probably be about 4.6% for all of 2006) and the LFP is 66.2% in 2005. So alot more people are trying to find jobs but we still have a pretty low UE. The LFP has actually been as high as 67.1% (from 1997-2000). It will probably average just under 66.2% for all of 2006. For people over 16, that is higher than any year before 1989. Here are the decade averges for LFP starting with the 1950s
So LFP is just a little lower so far this decade than last.
The next set of numbers is the average percent of the entire U.S. population that was employed
The 2000s are just a bit above the 1990s. Now the average unemployment rates
We are not as low as the 1950s and 1960s, but we are much closer to them than we are to the 1970s and 1980s. Now a slightly different breakdown for the 1970s and 1980s
1970 to 1974-5.4%
1975 to 1983-7.7%
1984 to 1989-6.4%
So for all of the attention given to outsourcing and immigrants taking jobs away from Americans, it seems like alot of people are working.