[Marxism] re. Query US Work Force: A careful review

Rod Holt rholt at planeteria.net
Sun Dec 5 23:09:26 MST 2004


Jurriaan wrote, 11/30/04:
<snip>
But it is undeniable whichever way you look at it that the number of 
those "not in the labour force" has increased much faster, close to 
twice as fast, as the total number of persons employed. I think this 
reflects the increasing marginalisation of a fraction of the labor 
force, which cannot be explained simply in terms of changes in 
demographic structure.
Actually, a surprising number of Americans engage in paid work also 
after they turn 65.
One might ask, what is the utility of these statistics? For our 
purposes, I think they help put into proportion the aggregate empirical 
trends, and that helps to discipline our theorizing about what is really 
happening to the workforce overall. It helps to get rid of a few myths 
about what the working classes really consist of.
<snip>

My reply
The table was in microsoft Word text format and then fed to Netscape. I 
hope it comes out ok. I sent it to myself and checked the result and it 
was OK.

Your question, as I understood it, was to explain why the 
Not in the 
Labor Force
 statistic and the 
number of employed
 contrasted so 
dramatically in the period of 1997 to 2003. My suggestion was that there 
was nothing unusual about the stats from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
Unemployment in 1997 was at a low and unemployment in 2003 was at a 
high. If you return to earlier business cycles and look at the size of 
the 
not in the labor force
, this pattern is consistently repeated.

Number in the labor force
 and 
number not in the Labor force
 always 
adds to 
Civilian non-institutional population,
 as you note. Further, 
the 
number of employed
 added to the 
number of unemployed
 always adds 
up to the 
number in the labor force.
 The BLS defines things this way.
My analysis goes in another direction than Jurriaan's. My point is that 
dropping real wages force an ever increasing percent of the population 
to work; i.e., the labor force as a percent of the civilian 
non-institutional population has been increasing since the early 1960s. 
People arent working for the hell of it; they work because they have 
to. There are more workers per household and more people pre household. 
There is a long established pattern of retrenchment in hard times and 
the subsequent boom never allows a recovery.
Below is the current data and my brief conclusion follows.
A-1. Employment status of the civilian non-institutional population 16 
years and over, 1969 to date.
Columns are headed: Civilian Non-institutional Population over 16 (CNP), 
Labor Force (LF), Employed (E), Unemployed (UNE), Not in the Labor Force.
Annualized averages
CNP LF % E % UNE % NILF
1969......... 134,335 _80,734 60.1 _77,902 58.0 2,832 3.5 53,602
1970......... 137,085 _82,771 60.4 _78,678 57.4 4,093 4.9 54,315
1971......... 140,216 _84,382 60.2 _79,367 56.6 5,016 5.9 55,834
1972(1).... 144,126 _87,034 60.4 _82,153 57.0 4,882 5.6 57,091
1973(1).... 147,096 _89,429 60.8 _85,064 57.8 4,365 4.9 57,667
1974......... 150,120 _91,949 61.3 _86,794 57.8 5,156 5.6 58,171
1975......... 153,153 _93,774 61.2 _85,846 56.1 7,929 8.5 59,377
1976......... 156,150 _96,158 61.6 _88,752 56.8 7,406 7.7 59,991
1977......... 159,033 _99,008 62.3 _92,017 57.9 6,991 7.1 60,025
1978(1).... 161,910 102,250 63.2 _96,048 59.3 6,202 6.1 59,659
1979......... 164,863 104,962 63.7 _98,824 59.9 6,137 5.8 59,900

1980......... 167,745 106,940 63.8 _99,302 59.2 7,637 7.1 60,806
1981......... 170,130 108,670 63.9 100,397 59.0 8,273 7.6 61,460
1982......... 172,271 110,204 64.0 _99,526 57.8 10,678 9.7 62,067
1983......... 174,215 111,550 64.0 100,834 57.9 10,717 9.6 62,665
1984......... 176,383 113,544 64.4 105,005 59.5 8,539 7.5 62,839
1985......... 178,206 115,461 64.8 107,150 60.1 8,312 7.2 62,744
1986(1).... 180,587 117,834 65.3 109,597 60.7 8,237 7.0 62,752
1987......... 182,753 119,865 65.6 112,440 61.5 7,425 6.2 62,888
1988......... 184,613 121,669 65.9 114,968 62.3 6,701 5.5 62,944
1989......... 186,393 123,869 66.5 117,342 63.0 6,528 5.3 62,523

1990(1)... 189,164 125,840 66.5 118,793 62.8 7,047 5.6 63,324
1991......... 190,925 126,346 66.2 117,718 61.7 8,628 6.8 64,578
1992......... 192,805 128,105 66.4 118,492 61.5 9,613 7.5 64,700
1993......... 194,838 129,200 66.3 120,259 61.7 8,940 6.9 65,638
1994(1).... 196,814 131,056 66.6 123,060 62.5 7,996 6.1 65,758
1995......... 198,584 132,304 66.6 124,900 62.9 7,404 5.6 66,280
1996......... 200,591 133,943 66.8 126,708 63.2 7,236 5.4 66,647
1997(1).... 203,133 136,297 67.1 129,558 63.8 6,739 4.9 66,836
1998(1).... 205,220 137,673 67.1 131,463 64.1 6,210 4.5 67,547
1999(1).... 207,753 139,368 67.1 133,488 64.3 5,880 4.2 68,385

2000(1).... 212,577 142,583 67.1 136,891 64.4 5,692 4.0 69,994
2001......... 215,092 143,734 66.8 136,933 63.7 6,801 4.7 71,359
2002......... 217,570 144,863 66.6 136,485 62.7 8,378 5.8 72,707
2003(1).... 221,168 146,510 66.2 137,736 62.3 8,774 6.0 74,658

Between 1997-2003, NILF increased by 7.822 million. CNP increased by 
18.035 million. UNE increased by 2.035 million.
The % ratio of ?NILF compared to ?CNP is 7.822 / 18.035 = 42.6%. I think 
this is the jump you observed. However, looking at it another way,
for 2003, the % NILF of CNP = 33.76%
for 1997, the % NILF of CNP = 32.90
The difference between 03 ratio and the 97 ratio is 1.14%, which 
(allowing for 210 million (mean) in the CNP) represents about 2.4 
million workers disappearing. The increase in unemployed workers for 
this period is 8,774-6,739 = 2.035 million. That is to say, 2.035 out of 
the 2.4 million 
disappeared
 did not really disappear but show up on 
the unemployed roles. That means we have to account for only 365 
thousand disappeared workers, which is less than one-half of one percent 
(!) of the Civilian Non-institutional Population. Over half of this 
discrepancy can be accounted for by the increase in the number of 
workers in the 
over 65 years of age
 bracket (3.8 to 4.4 million) where 
participation in the labor force is low, typically less than 15%. I.e., 
the elderly get 100% counted in the CNP and in the NILF, but only 
account for 15% of the labor force. There are many other discrepancies 
such as counting the partially disabled workers, the handicapped, etc.
The jump you observed is due to looking at the changes in the 
differences rather than the differences in the changes.
I am sorry this is so late, but it was the best I could do.
my warmest regards,
rod






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