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Free Content Changes in Labor Force Participation in the United States

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The labor force participation rate in the United States increased almost continuously for two-and-a-half decades after the mid-1960s, pausing only briefly during economic downturns. The pace of growth slowed considerably during the 1990s, however, and after reaching a record high of 67.3 percent in the first quarter of 2000, participation had declined by 1.5 percentage points by 2005. This paper reviews the social and demographic trends that contributed to the movements in the labor force participation rate in the second half of the twentieth century. It also examines the manner in which developments in the 2000s reflect a break from past trends and considers implications for the future.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2006

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  • The Journal of Economic Perspectives (JEP) attempts to fill a gap between the general interest press and most other academic economics journals. The journal aims to publish articles that will serve several goals: to synthesize and integrate lessons learned from active lines of economic research; to provide economic analysis of public policy issues; to encourage cross-fertilization of ideas among the fields of thinking; to offer readers an accessible source for state-of-the-art economic thinking; to suggest directions for future research; to provide insights and readings for classroom use; and to address issues relating to the economics profession.
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