(February 2001) Between 1998 and 2008, about 42 million people are expected to enter the labor force — and give it a new look. Compared with the group of 112 million workers who will remain in the labor force during this period (40 percent white male and 25 percent minority), the group of new workers is more diverse (just 30 percent white male but 41 percent minority). About one-fourth of the entrants are expected to be Hispanic or Asian — two groups that make up one-seventh of today’s labor force. Women are expected to be 50 percent of the entrants, compared with 47 percent of the “stayers.” These projected developments largely reflect the growth in racial and ethnic diversity in the total U.S. population, as well as the younger age structure of minority populations.

Assuming that these trends continue into 2025, the American labor force will become slightly more female (48 percent vs. 46 percent in 1998) and noticeably more minority (36 percent vs. 26 percent in 1998). The aging of the baby boom generation also will make the labor force older in 2025: 40 percent of workers will be ages 45 and over, compared with 33 percent in 1998. The integration of the new workers and the current ones will provide both opportunities and challenges for American businesses, as well as for the country as a whole.



Citations

Howard N. Fullerton, Jr., “Labor Force Projections to 2008: Steady Growth and Changing Composition,” Monthly Labor Review (November 1999): 19–32; and “Labor Force Participation: 75 Years of Change, 1950–98 and 1998–2025,” Monthly Labor Review (December 1999): 3-12.