by DRM

There’s a lot of concern about employment in the U.S., justifiably so, as a multitude of companies have trimmed their workforce to reflect current or anticipated downturns in results.

Here are some useful charts from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

The first looks at the growth in the labor force over the past 10 years. The labor force has grown by an average of about 2 million people a year in the past decade.

The next chart looks at the change in the unemployment rate for the same period.From ’02 to ’04, the unemployment rate hovered around 6%, after having touched 4%, which is close to full employment, two years before.

The following two charts look at the change in the percentage of the labor force currently employed, both from 1972 and from 1998.

These charts show the percentage of adults older than 16 that are currently in the labor pool After a steady climb from 1972 to 1990, the participation rate has leveled off and has declined meaningfully since the turn of the century.

The final chart shows the number of unemployed for less than 5 weeks, which is a good proxy for the rate of inflow into the ranks of the unemployed. The current trend is reminiscent of the mid-1980’s.