What labor force participation is (and why it matters)
Acton Institute Powerblog

What labor force participation is (and why it matters)

Note: This is post #103 in a weekly video series on basic economics.

Labor force participation is an important concept connected to employment. The labor force participation rate is defined as the section of working population in the age group of 16-64 in the economy currently employed or seeking employment. The formula for the labor force participation rate is therefore rather simple: labor force (unemployed + employed) / adult population, excluding people in the military or prison for both.

The total labor force participation rate has grown significantly in the United States since the 1950s, notes economist Alex Tabarrok. But the total growth doesn’t paint a clear picture of how the U.S. workforce has changed, particularly the makeup.

In this video by Marginal Revolution University, Tabarrok discusses several big factors at play influencing the demographics of labor force participation.

(If you find the pace of the videos too slow, I’d recommend watching them at 1.5 to 2 times the speed. You can adjust the speed at which the video plays by clicking on “Settings” (the gear symbol) and changing “Speed” from normal to 1.25, 1.5 or 2.)

Click here to see other videos in the Introduction to Economics series.


Joe Carter

Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).