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Sunday, June 26, 2016

MythBusted...Rising "Not in Labor Force" Only Partly Due to Retiring Boomers...Since '00, Many Are Gen X & Millenials

Conventional wisdom has it that the fast rise of the "not in labor force" since 2000 is due to 55+yr/old baby boomers moving into retirement.  The answer to this question...sorta yes and sorta no.

First, what is "not in labor force"?  The labor force is made up of the employed and the unemployed, 16 years old or older. The remainder—those who have no job and are not looking for one—are counted as "not in the labor force".  The chart below shows the rising numbers of those not in the labor force and the acceleration since 2000.
The source of the accelerating growth in the "not in labor force" has shifted from 100%+(net) coming from among the 55+yr/olds (moving from the work force into retirement) to the current split of only 65% from among the 55+ versus 35% from the core 16-54yr/old cohort.  The changing source of not in labor force is exactly opposite of the historical norm and opposite conventional wisdom.  It is also an economic cancer as these millions from among the 16-54 are not building job skills, savings, or self sufficiency.  They will not be home buyers nor drive economic activity.  They will essentially be a lifelong societal burden.
First (below) a review of the 25-54yr/old total population, total employees among the 25-54yr/olds, and full time jobs among the 25-54yr/old population (available since '00).  The 25-54 core population makes up roughly 70% of the entire workforce and this period is (on average) the most lucrative earnings period during a workers lifetime.
  • '55-->'80...core population rose by 19 million and 22 million 25-54yr/olds found net new employment...or 1.16 jobs per the every new 25-54yr/old...obviously, immigration made some sense.
  • '80-->'00 population rose by 37m and 35m new jobs among them...or 95% of the new adults had jobs available.
  • '00-->'16 core population rose by 5m and a decline of 600k a decline in full time jobs of 500k.
Next, the progression of 55+yr/old (below) population, total employment, and full time jobs among them.
  • '48-->'80 18 million more 55+yr/olds vs 5 million more jobs among them (27% of new elderly found net new jobs).
  • '80-->'00 11 million more elderly vs. 3 million new jobs among them (27%).
  • '00-->'16 33 million more elderly vs. 17 million new jobs (52%) among them (11 million found net new full time jobs).

A close-up since 2000...the 25-54yr/old population peaked in 2007 and has fallen slightly since (below).  However, overall employment and full time jobs among this sector have each fallen by a half million.

And below, the 55+ population, jobs, and FT jobs are fast rising.  The 55+ segment rose during all periods and represent the entire growth in full time employment since '00.
And just for perspective...the Russell 3000 vs. the 25-54yr/old population, 25-54yr/old total jobs, and 25-54yr/old full time jobs.

US mortgage debt outstanding vs. the 25-54yr/old population, 25-54yr/old total jobs, and 25-54yr/old full time jobs.

US oil consumption vs. the 25-54yr/old population, 25-54yr/old total jobs, and 25-54yr/old full time jobs.
Over the next decade 2016-->2026, the Census estimates core population to rise by 5 million and a 19 million increase among 55+yr/olds...and yet the trends of elderly continuing to work far longer and core population dropping out seem to be gaining speed.  Just another concern to add to the very long list.


  1. any email I can contact regarding an ad?

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  3. Fascinating stuff! Is it necessarily the case that old folks who can't retire and now live longer are taking the jobs of younger folks. How does the increase in people on disability and ex-felons play into this? You might be interested in my website which discusses bank regulation and the true cause of the 2008 crisis.

    1. Thanks for your good questions. Regarding the 55+ crowd, they appear to be continuing to work much longer than their predecessors. I think the combination of underfunded retirements, diminishing COLA's since '09, and fast rising health care and other out of pocket costs are pushing them to maintain their jobs or re-enter the work force. As for the huge growth in the DA roles, prison population, and ex-felons that likely have very limited employability...good points. They are counted among their demographic groupings and one way or another are not going to be earners capable of driving demand or buying homes, etc.

      The US and increasingly the world is very innovative in determining how to cut costs, primarily labor. Thus since '08, the US has only replaced the jobs that were lost but really created nothing net new. This against a total US population gain of 20+ million. And the quality of the jobs (pay, benefits) are simply inferior. So quantity and quality is and has been declining for some time. Plus kids taking on large education debt loads that make them only marginally employable not helping.

      For me '08 was not a banking crisis (per se), but a global demographic crisis. In short, growth of 0-64yr/old populations of means (EU, N. America, Japan, etc.) ceased. In fact, the combined OECD, Russia, China, Brazil 0-64yr/old population turns outright negative this year and will fall for the rest of our lives after growing by as much as 30 million/yr. Anyway, interest rates were dropped to incent higher usage of credit (leverage) to maintain the "growth" curve. The pool of potential buyers was shrinking all over so standards lowered, games played to make the previously un-credit worthy into home buyers and general consumers (absent means). I try to detail some of the global demographic angle here...

    2. Or I should say, banking issues were a result of demographic issues...and the demographics get far worse, so unlikely banks (particularly in EU, Japan, China) are going to get better.


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