February 13, 2012

Labor Force Growth Slows, Hispanic Share Grows

Hispanics will account for three-quarters of the growth in the nation’s labor force from 2010 to 2020, according to new projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). One major reason is that the Hispanic population is growing rapidly due to births and immigration. At the same time, the aging of the non-Hispanic white population is expected to reduce their numbers in the labor force.

A second important factor is that Hispanics have a higher labor force participation rate than other groups. The nation’s labor force participation rate—that is, the share of the population ages 16 and older either employed or looking for work—was 64.7% in 2010. Among Hispanics, the rate was 67.5%. There are two main explanations for this gap: Hispanics are a younger population than other groups, and include a higher share of immigrants.

The figures for Hispanics come from the latest round of BLS projections for the U.S. labor force, covering 2010-2020, which indicate that growth will slow overall. These projections show that the labor force will increase by 10.5 million in this decade, growing to 164.4 million in 2020 from 153.9 million in 2010. That is less than the increase of 11.3 million from 2000 to 2010, and substantially less than the 16.7 million increase from 1990 to 2000. The projected average annual increase in the labor force from 2010 to 2020—0.7%—is also less than the annual growth of 0.8% from 2000 to 2010 and only about half the 1.3% annual rate of growth from 1990 to 2000.

The complete commentary, “Labor Force Growth Slows, Hispanic Share Grows,” is available on All Things Census at the Pew Social & Demographic Trends website.