A Look at the Size and State of the Current U.S. Workforce

KRA Corporation takes a look at the U.S. workforce, how it stands, and some potential factors that could be affecting it.

A recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Labor Participation rate graph shows that the rate of participation for workers 16 years of age and older has dropped by more than 3% in the last 10 years (from 66.4% to 63%). It is a decline that is worrisome, as it might point to a weakened U.S. economy in the future as well as lowered growth prospects.

A Washington Post article points to three factors that could be contributing to this phenomenon: a retiring baby boomer population (meaning fewer workers to choose from), the search for higher education in a bad economy, and an increase of workers receiving disability insurance.

It is also worrying as it begs the question as to how those that make up the U.S. workforce are faring in the current economic climate. Recessions make for belt tightening, and cutting fixed labor costs is one of the quickest ways to increase profits. It also leads to changing management techniques and restructuring of benefit packages.

Just how quickly those employment practices and company policies will shift is open for some debate. The bargaining power of jobseekers and employees has been severely affected, and there are factions that seem to think there will not be a rush by larger companies to restructure or change hiring practices.

The practice of hiring nonstandard, temporary, and/or part-time employees is something that some groups believe is not likely to change in the near future, either. An unfortunate by-product, which stems from the sense of lack of job security and impermanence of employment, is a decline in mental health for those affected by the change in employment status (something that KRA Corporation highlighted in a previous post).

These practices and a weak job market have given rise to more and more workforce “dropouts.” By simply giving up on searching for employment, they risk being left behind and eventually become unemployable—an unfortunate outcome that KRA Corporation continually strives to address and combat as part of its mission.

Additionally, the practice of offshoring continues to draw a lot of criticism, being regarded as a potential drain on the U.S. workforce with jobs being shipped internationally. Even with a rebounding economy, some economists believe that it will not spur a reversal of those decisions and bring the jobs back to the U.S.

There have been efforts made to create programs by the current administration, like the Make it in America Challenge (as highlighted in this KRA Corporation post), to dissuade the practice and keep, expand, or reshore U.S.-based manufacturing operations—an effort at job creation that KRA Corporation applauds.

Since 1981, our commitment to supporting the mission of federal, state, and local agencies that are dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and strengthening the communities in which we live has never wavered. Successfully weathering cyclical economic climates, KRA Corporation has remained dedicated to its mission of providing workforce development services that prepare jobseekers for tomorrow’s global economy and supply employers with a trained and reliable workforce. 

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