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Tag Archives: Race

Celebrating African American History Month

In honor of African American History Month, we’d like to highlight some employment statistics about Black or African American men and women.

Historically, the employment–population ratio for Black men has been considerably lower than the rate for men overall. For example, 60.0 percent of Black men were employed in January 2022, 5.1 percentage points lower than the employment–population ratio for men overall. By contrast, the employment–population ratios for Black women and for women overall have historically been much closer. In January 2022, the ratio for Black women was 55.7 percent, 1.1 percentage points higher than the ratio for women overall.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the employment–population ratio for Black men fell by 10.2 percentage points between February 2020 and April 2020 to 50.4 percent. This was the lowest in the history of the data, going back to 1972. Over the same period, the ratio for men overall fell by a slightly smaller amount—9.6 percentage points—to 57.2 percent. However, between April 2020 and January 2022, the ratio for Black men has risen by 9.6 percentage points, while the ratio for men overall has risen by a smaller amount, 7.9 percentage points.

Between February 2020 and April 2020, the employment–population ratio for Black women fell by 11.0 percentage points, a greater decline than the 10.1 percentage points for women overall. Since April 2020, the measure for Black women has risen less than that for women overall (8.3 percentage points versus 8.8 percentage points).

Employment–population ratios of Blacks or African Americans and the total population by sex, January 1972–January 2022, seasonally adjusted

Editor’s note: Data for this chart are available in the table below.

The disparity in the recovery of the employment–population ratio between men and women may partially reflect the industries in which they are employed.

In 2021, 14.9 percent of employed Black men worked in transportation and utilities, a larger share than for men overall (8.7 percent). Within transportation and utilities, Black men were particularly likely to work in couriers and messengers and in warehousing and storage; these industries have fully recovered the jobs they lost between February 2020 and April 2020 and have continued to add jobs.

Percent distribution of employed Blacks or African Americans and the total workforce by selected  industry and sex, 2021 annual averages

Editor’s note: Data for this chart are available in the table below.

In 2021, 40.1 percent of employed Black women worked in education and health services, a larger share than for women overall (36.0 percent). Employment in the education and health services industry is still 2.6 percent below its February 2020 level. Within this broad industry, Black women were especially likely to work in nursing and residential care facilities, where employment is 12.1 percent below its level before the pandemic.

We have more information about the labor force characteristics of Black men and women on our labor force demographics page.

This is just a sample of the information available on the labor force status of African Americans. Explore for yourself some of our other resources to expand your knowledge.

Employment–population ratios of Blacks or African Americans and the total population by sex, January 1972–January 2022, seasonally adjusted
MonthTotal menTotal womenBlack menBlack women

Jan 1972

74.6%40.8%65.1%43.1%

Feb 1972

74.640.865.742.9

Mar 1972

74.941.066.742.9

Apr 1972

74.940.967.143.0

May 1972

74.941.067.043.2

Jun 1972

75.140.968.542.9

Jul 1972

75.140.966.842.6

Aug 1972

75.341.067.242.4

Sep 1972

75.140.966.842.7

Oct 1972

75.040.966.642.3

Nov 1972

75.141.166.843.7

Dec 1972

75.441.367.243.9

Jan 1973

75.141.066.743.1

Feb 1973

75.441.667.843.8

Mar 1973

75.741.768.043.8

Apr 1973

75.541.967.543.5

May 1973

75.342.167.043.3

Jun 1973

75.642.367.143.1

Jul 1973

75.742.167.444.5

Aug 1973

75.442.167.444.4

Sep 1973

75.442.267.243.9

Oct 1973

75.742.468.044.4

Nov 1973

75.842.667.944.2

Dec 1973

75.842.568.344.0

Jan 1974

76.042.368.644.0

Feb 1974

75.842.667.643.9

Mar 1974

75.542.767.042.9

Apr 1974

75.142.766.643.7

May 1974

75.342.666.643.9

Jun 1974

75.042.765.743.8

Jul 1974

74.843.065.643.6

Aug 1974

74.742.865.243.9

Sep 1974

74.642.764.844.3

Oct 1974

74.442.665.343.5

Nov 1974

74.142.364.142.3

Dec 1974

73.442.163.042.0

Jan 1975

72.642.062.141.8

Feb 1975

72.241.761.441.4

Mar 1975

71.941.760.641.6

Apr 1975

71.641.859.741.4

May 1975

71.741.960.441.5

Jun 1975

71.341.960.142.0

Jul 1975

71.742.160.841.7

Aug 1975

71.842.260.741.4

Sep 1975

71.642.260.741.4

Oct 1975

71.542.360.241.6

Nov 1975

71.442.260.141.8

Dec 1975

71.442.459.742.1

Jan 1976

71.842.760.242.6

Feb 1976

71.942.860.142.6

Mar 1976

71.943.060.043.8

Apr 1976

72.243.160.943.4

May 1976

72.243.460.943.1

Jun 1976

71.843.359.942.8

Jul 1976

72.143.560.542.4

Aug 1976

72.343.361.142.5

Sep 1976

72.143.260.842.3

Oct 1976

72.143.260.642.2

Nov 1976

72.043.660.943.3

Dec 1976

72.043.661.242.7

Jan 1977

72.143.661.542.5

Feb 1977

72.243.861.842.5

Mar 1977

72.344.061.742.8

Apr 1977

72.644.262.343.1

May 1977

72.644.660.943.7

Jun 1977

72.844.462.043.3

Jul 1977

72.844.461.142.9

Aug 1977

72.944.660.843.5

Sep 1977

72.844.860.343.8

Oct 1977

73.244.860.643.5

Nov 1977

73.545.161.643.3

Dec 1977

73.645.362.645.0

Jan 1978

73.545.562.544.8

Feb 1978

73.445.762.845.4

Mar 1978

73.345.863.345.4

Apr 1978

73.646.263.245.6

May 1978

73.846.363.345.7

Jun 1978

74.146.563.546.1

Jul 1978

73.846.363.745.3

Aug 1978

73.946.462.646.6

Sep 1978

73.746.763.646.7

Oct 1978

73.847.063.846.5

Nov 1978

74.147.063.546.0

Dec 1978

73.947.163.546.0

Jan 1979

74.247.163.245.8

Feb 1979

74.347.363.145.8

Mar 1979

74.047.563.246.6

Apr 1979

73.947.162.945.9

May 1979

73.847.263.445.4

Jun 1979

74.047.263.845.8

Jul 1979

73.947.563.946.3

Aug 1979

73.747.364.245.3

Sep 1979

73.947.664.445.9

Oct 1979

73.547.763.746.4

Nov 1979

73.447.962.946.5

Dec 1979

73.548.062.646.6

Jan 1980

73.348.061.946.4

Feb 1980

73.447.961.646.3

Mar 1980

73.047.861.345.8

Apr 1980

72.347.760.945.6

May 1980

71.947.660.345.7

Jun 1980

71.547.559.845.4

Jul 1980

71.447.559.945.7

Aug 1980

71.447.559.746.0

Sep 1980

71.447.659.545.7

Oct 1980

71.647.660.045.4

Nov 1980

71.647.760.145.3

Dec 1980

71.747.659.945.2

Jan 1981

71.747.860.345.7

Feb 1981

71.648.059.845.2

Mar 1981

71.848.160.245.2

Apr 1981

72.148.360.346.3

May 1981

71.948.460.545.2

Jun 1981

71.148.158.445.1

Jul 1981

71.548.158.745.0

Aug 1981

71.448.158.244.3

Sep 1981

71.147.558.944.6

Oct 1981

70.847.958.445.0

Nov 1981

70.547.957.545.6

Dec 1981

70.047.657.544.9

Jan 1982

69.947.757.145.2

Feb 1982

69.947.757.244.5

Mar 1982

69.647.756.844.2

Apr 1982

69.547.656.643.7

May 1982

69.747.856.444.0

Jun 1982

68.947.855.544.2

Jul 1982

68.847.856.144.0

Aug 1982

68.847.856.044.3

Sep 1982

68.647.855.144.4

Oct 1982

68.447.555.044.0

Nov 1982

68.247.555.543.8

Dec 1982

68.047.554.644.1

Jan 1983

67.947.555.043.8

Feb 1983

67.847.555.344.5

Mar 1983

67.847.555.444.0

Apr 1983

68.047.655.243.8

May 1983

68.147.555.044.1

Jun 1983

69.047.756.143.7

Jul 1983

69.248.056.744.4

Aug 1983

69.248.456.244.3

Sep 1983

69.348.756.844.8

Oct 1983

69.448.557.143.9

Nov 1983

69.948.758.044.1

Dec 1983

69.948.858.044.1

Jan 1984

70.048.758.144.4

Feb 1984

70.349.059.445.7

Mar 1984

70.349.058.545.6

Apr 1984

70.449.357.846.1

May 1984

70.749.959.346.4

Jun 1984

71.249.758.847.3

Jul 1984

70.849.858.446.9

Aug 1984

70.749.559.547.4

Sep 1984

70.949.659.847.5

Oct 1984

70.949.660.247.3

Nov 1984

71.049.760.647.9

Dec 1984

71.049.960.048.0

Jan 1985

70.950.159.848.4

Feb 1985

70.850.359.647.5

Mar 1985

71.050.559.648.2

Apr 1985

71.050.459.748.5

May 1985

71.150.259.948.0

Jun 1985

70.650.160.148.6

Jul 1985

70.750.259.947.9

Aug 1985

70.950.260.947.8

Sep 1985

71.050.660.347.7

Oct 1985

71.050.759.948.1

Nov 1985

71.050.859.448.0

Dec 1985

71.050.960.148.6

Jan 1986

71.350.960.748.5

Feb 1986

70.950.860.548.5

Mar 1986

70.951.061.048.9

Apr 1986

70.951.060.949.2

May 1986

70.851.261.549.1

Jun 1986

70.951.561.048.9

Jul 1986

70.951.660.648.7

Aug 1986

70.951.759.448.2

Sep 1986

70.951.759.948.8

Oct 1986

70.951.860.349.2

Nov 1986

71.151.760.549.0

Dec 1986

71.251.761.248.7

Jan 1987

71.351.761.248.8

Feb 1987

71.351.961.549.4

Mar 1987

71.252.161.649.2

Apr 1987

71.352.361.649.5

May 1987

71.552.661.349.9

Jun 1987

71.352.561.750.2

Jul 1987

71.452.762.250.7

Aug 1987

71.652.962.951.3

Sep 1987

71.652.662.450.5

Oct 1987

71.752.862.651.5

Nov 1987

71.752.962.751.4

Dec 1987

71.853.162.551.5

Jan 1988

71.953.162.851.2

Feb 1988

72.053.162.150.9

Mar 1988

71.653.261.550.6

Apr 1988

72.253.262.950.1

May 1988

72.052.962.550.1

Jun 1988

72.153.362.550.1

Jul 1988

72.253.362.651.9

Aug 1988

72.253.563.351.4

Sep 1988

72.153.563.051.4

Oct 1988

72.053.863.151.8

Nov 1988

72.154.162.852.1

Dec 1988

72.054.162.952.4

Jan 1989

72.254.463.051.9

Feb 1989

72.454.262.852.0

Mar 1989

72.654.263.151.9

Apr 1989

72.554.262.051.8

May 1989

72.454.262.652.3

Jun 1989

72.854.163.351.6

Jul 1989

72.754.263.752.3

Aug 1989

72.654.463.052.0

Sep 1989

72.054.562.352.0

Oct 1989

72.454.362.451.7

Nov 1989

72.354.762.352.0

Dec 1989

72.354.462.251.9

Jan 1990

72.654.662.852.9

Feb 1990

72.654.563.152.9

Mar 1990

72.654.663.252.8

Apr 1990

72.354.563.252.5

May 1990

72.454.663.352.9

Jun 1990

72.254.463.152.1

Jul 1990

72.154.362.551.4

Aug 1990

71.954.462.451.2

Sep 1990

71.654.262.051.0

Oct 1990

71.654.262.051.2

Nov 1990

71.454.062.051.2

Dec 1990

71.353.961.850.9

Jan 1991

71.053.861.851.1

Feb 1991

70.753.861.750.8

Mar 1991

70.653.762.450.9

Apr 1991

70.754.161.551.1

May 1991

70.453.660.150.9

Jun 1991

70.453.761.150.6

Jul 1991

70.353.661.351.0

Aug 1991

70.253.560.950.3

Sep 1991

70.353.761.951.2

Oct 1991

70.153.761.149.6

Nov 1991

70.053.661.049.7

Dec 1991

69.753.560.750.3

Jan 1992

69.853.860.750.3

Feb 1992

69.653.759.850.3

Mar 1992

69.853.859.850.4

Apr 1992

70.053.959.750.3

May 1992

69.953.859.750.4

Jun 1992

69.953.760.151.0

Jul 1992

70.053.860.051.3

Aug 1992

70.053.860.351.9

Sep 1992

69.953.760.151.4

Oct 1992

69.753.659.650.8

Nov 1992

69.753.760.050.4

Dec 1992

69.853.759.250.6

Jan 1993

69.853.759.949.5

Feb 1993

69.953.760.750.8

Mar 1993

69.953.959.350.5

Apr 1993

69.853.858.850.3

May 1993

70.154.160.250.9

Jun 1993

70.154.159.850.5

Jul 1993

70.254.160.750.7

Aug 1993

70.354.361.151.1

Sep 1993

70.054.260.051.3

Oct 1993

70.054.359.951.6

Nov 1993

70.154.459.551.8

Dec 1993

70.154.659.752.1

Jan 1994

70.254.959.451.5

Feb 1994

70.155.159.851.8

Mar 1994

70.054.960.551.9

Apr 1994

70.155.160.652.2

May 1994

70.355.461.351.7

Jun 1994

70.255.160.852.8

Jul 1994

70.155.260.352.8

Aug 1994

70.555.360.152.7

Sep 1994

70.655.461.052.7

Oct 1994

70.855.561.652.5

Nov 1994

71.055.661.752.3

Dec 1994

71.355.562.652.0

Jan 1995

71.255.562.352.5

Feb 1995

71.355.663.153.4

Mar 1995

71.355.663.353.2

Apr 1995

71.155.762.653.3

May 1995

70.555.661.753.7

Jun 1995

70.855.361.752.9

Jul 1995

70.755.660.852.6

Aug 1995

70.655.760.552.8

Sep 1995

70.855.661.252.5

Oct 1995

70.755.861.454.0

Nov 1995

70.355.961.355.5

Dec 1995

70.455.660.554.6

Jan 1996

70.555.561.054.1

Feb 1996

70.755.760.853.8

Mar 1996

70.755.860.754.1

Apr 1996

70.755.960.754.1

May 1996

70.855.861.354.6

Jun 1996

71.055.960.754.4

Jul 1996

71.156.161.354.7

Aug 1996

71.156.262.254.4

Sep 1996

71.156.460.854.2

Oct 1996

71.356.461.154.8

Nov 1996

70.956.561.154.8

Dec 1996

71.156.461.154.7

Jan 1997

71.056.460.555.0

Feb 1997

71.056.360.754.9

Mar 1997

71.256.660.355.5

Apr 1997

71.356.760.655.4

May 1997

71.556.760.955.1

Jun 1997

71.356.860.954.8

Jul 1997

71.457.061.855.9

Aug 1997

71.457.063.556.5

Sep 1997

71.357.062.456.4

Oct 1997

71.457.062.155.6

Nov 1997

71.757.062.055.8

Dec 1997

71.457.261.156.4

Jan 1998

71.557.062.056.5

Feb 1998

71.557.061.857.0

Mar 1998

71.457.162.757.1

Apr 1998

71.857.063.156.5

May 1998

71.757.162.656.0

Jun 1998

71.657.063.757.1

Jul 1998

71.557.062.857.0

Aug 1998

71.457.162.857.3

Sep 1998

71.657.362.957.0

Oct 1998

71.657.163.857.8

Nov 1998

71.857.163.158.1

Dec 1998

71.757.463.158.5

Jan 1999

71.957.464.058.7

Feb 1999

71.757.362.958.0

Mar 1999

71.757.362.958.1

Apr 1999

71.657.362.758.7

May 1999

71.757.563.658.4

Jun 1999

71.657.463.258.6

Jul 1999

71.657.462.258.7

Aug 1999

71.557.563.258.6

Sep 1999

71.657.462.958.9

Oct 1999

71.557.663.058.7

Nov 1999

71.757.662.958.8

Dec 1999

71.857.663.358.3

Jan 2000

72.257.661.259.0

Feb 2000

72.257.561.558.9

Mar 2000

72.257.561.258.9

Apr 2000

72.158.064.559.0

May 2000

71.957.563.358.8

Jun 2000

72.057.563.258.5

Jul 2000

71.657.363.258.1

Aug 2000

71.957.162.958.2

Sep 2000

71.757.462.958.1

Oct 2000

71.657.463.358.5

Nov 2000

71.757.563.758.7

Dec 2000

71.757.663.358.7

Jan 2001

71.857.663.758.1

Feb 2001

71.657.563.258.5

Mar 2001

71.457.762.658.7

Apr 2001

71.357.262.258.6

May 2001

71.157.262.158.6

Jun 2001

70.957.061.658.6

Jul 2001

70.957.062.158.5

Aug 2001

70.456.661.557.5

Sep 2001

70.856.762.557.0

Oct 2001

70.356.661.256.7

Nov 2001

70.056.660.956.2

Dec 2001

70.056.361.856.1

Jan 2002

69.756.262.055.9

Feb 2002

69.956.661.955.9

Mar 2002

69.856.461.755.3

Apr 2002

69.856.261.855.6

May 2002

70.156.162.555.5

Jun 2002

69.856.260.755.6

Jul 2002

69.756.161.055.3

Aug 2002

69.756.360.955.7

Sep 2002

70.056.461.456.5

Oct 2002

69.756.361.256.1

Nov 2002

69.256.259.055.9

Dec 2002

69.156.259.156.2

Jan 2003

68.956.559.656.4

Feb 2003

69.256.260.255.5

Mar 2003

68.956.359.256.1

Apr 2003

69.056.359.556.1

May 2003

68.856.359.156.8

Jun 2003

68.756.459.455.6

Jul 2003

68.656.159.655.4

Aug 2003

68.656.059.355.6

Sep 2003

68.955.759.555.6

Oct 2003

68.955.959.254.8

Nov 2003

69.056.059.755.7

Dec 2003

69.255.760.054.3

Jan 2004

69.455.760.355.4

Feb 2004

69.156.059.455.7

Mar 2004

69.055.959.755.8

Apr 2004

69.056.058.956.0

May 2004

68.956.159.255.0

Jun 2004

69.256.059.454.7

Jul 2004

69.456.058.555.9

Aug 2004

69.356.059.055.8

Sep 2004

69.155.959.355.6

Oct 2004

69.255.959.555.5

Nov 2004

69.456.059.455.3

Dec 2004

69.256.158.955.4

Jan 2005

69.156.158.855.3

Feb 2005

69.256.058.655.0

Mar 2005

69.456.059.455.0

Apr 2005

69.656.260.255.2

May 2005

69.856.260.855.6

Jun 2005

69.856.160.955.8

Jul 2005

69.856.261.856.0

Aug 2005

69.956.461.255.9

Sep 2005

69.756.460.756.1

Oct 2005

69.756.460.757.0

Nov 2005

69.656.359.356.1

Dec 2005

69.756.360.055.9

Jan 2006

70.056.360.055.9

Feb 2006

70.056.460.756.4

Mar 2006

70.256.461.156.4

Apr 2006

70.056.460.956.0

May 2006

70.056.661.156.6

Jun 2006

70.056.760.356.2

Jul 2006

69.656.860.056.2

Aug 2006

69.956.860.357.1

Sep 2006

70.256.560.056.1

Oct 2006

70.256.860.657.2

Nov 2006

70.256.860.957.1

Dec 2006

70.456.961.657.2

Jan 2007

70.356.861.857.5

Feb 2007

70.156.861.257.2

Mar 2007

70.256.960.456.9

Apr 2007

70.056.360.656.7

May 2007

69.956.660.356.5

Jun 2007

69.856.759.956.7

Jul 2007

69.656.661.456.6

Aug 2007

69.456.561.756.3

Sep 2007

69.556.860.956.4

Oct 2007

69.356.559.856.3

Nov 2007

69.656.660.355.7

Dec 2007

69.456.559.856.1

Jan 2008

69.656.660.956.1

Feb 2008

69.556.560.856.3

Mar 2008

69.356.560.156.6

Apr 2008

69.256.660.256.8

May 2008

69.056.559.656.0

Jun 2008

68.856.459.755.9

Jul 2008

68.656.359.056.1

Aug 2008

68.356.159.955.6

Sep 2008

68.156.158.554.9

Oct 2008

67.856.157.855.1

Nov 2008

67.355.856.755.1

Dec 2008

66.755.656.455.3

Jan 2009

66.255.255.654.8

Feb 2009

65.755.254.953.8

Mar 2009

65.155.054.253.5

Apr 2009

65.054.953.853.4

May 2009

64.854.753.953.0

Jun 2009

64.654.553.553.2

Jul 2009

64.554.553.953.2

Aug 2009

64.254.353.252.6

Sep 2009

63.953.952.851.9

Oct 2009

63.753.752.851.3

Nov 2009

63.653.852.752.0

Dec 2009

63.353.552.751.3

Jan 2010

63.353.952.551.6

Feb 2010

63.453.852.551.8

Mar 2010

63.653.752.551.6

Apr 2010

64.053.753.351.5

May 2010

63.953.654.152.1

Jun 2010

63.853.652.852.2

Jul 2010

63.953.553.251.5

Aug 2010

63.953.553.451.3

Sep 2010

63.853.552.851.2

Oct 2010

63.653.353.451.5

Nov 2010

63.453.453.151.8

Dec 2010

63.653.353.251.8

Jan 2011

63.753.352.651.3

Feb 2011

63.853.252.751.2

Mar 2011

63.853.452.650.9

Apr 2011

63.753.352.550.4

May 2011

63.853.252.050.4

Jun 2011

63.753.052.650.0

Jul 2011

63.653.152.449.9

Aug 2011

63.953.152.550.6

Sep 2011

63.953.253.151.5

Oct 2011

63.953.353.551.7

Nov 2011

64.353.253.050.8

Dec 2011

64.453.154.450.6

Jan 2012

64.352.955.250.9

Feb 2012

64.353.154.052.2

Mar 2012

64.353.254.152.4

Apr 2012

64.353.053.852.6

May 2012

64.353.154.252.0

Jun 2012

64.453.254.352.1

Jul 2012

64.353.053.852.0

Aug 2012

64.153.153.752.2

Sep 2012

64.553.353.652.4

Oct 2012

64.753.354.052.9

Nov 2012

64.653.254.352.2

Dec 2012

64.653.254.051.7

Jan 2013

64.553.054.852.1

Feb 2013

64.553.055.251.6

Mar 2013

64.552.955.351.6

Apr 2013

64.453.254.452.4

May 2013

64.453.254.352.8

Jun 2013

64.553.253.952.0

Jul 2013

64.453.454.852.4

Aug 2013

64.353.554.052.1

Sep 2013

64.453.354.752.1

Oct 2013

64.052.954.451.5

Nov 2013

64.553.154.651.7

Dec 2013

64.553.254.452.1

Jan 2014

64.553.454.452.4

Feb 2014

64.353.654.253.3

Mar 2014

64.853.455.252.8

Apr 2014

64.653.555.452.7

May 2014

64.653.555.352.7

Jun 2014

64.953.556.153.0

Jul 2014

65.053.456.353.0

Aug 2014

65.053.456.352.1

Sep 2014

65.253.457.053.0

Oct 2014

65.353.756.953.1

Nov 2014

65.153.756.253.3

Dec 2014

65.353.656.753.4

Jan 2015

65.353.756.453.2

Feb 2015

65.353.656.753.3

Mar 2015

65.353.656.953.5

Apr 2015

65.553.658.554.2

May 2015

65.553.857.654.2

Jun 2015

65.353.857.154.8

Jul 2015

65.453.657.254.8

Aug 2015

65.453.857.254.8

Sep 2015

65.353.557.154.5

Oct 2015

65.353.757.254.9

Nov 2015

65.254.056.755.0

Dec 2015

65.554.157.955.1

Jan 2016

65.754.157.754.9

Feb 2016

65.954.158.254.5

Mar 2016

65.954.258.354.1

Apr 2016

65.854.058.253.8

May 2016

65.754.158.554.0

Jun 2016

65.953.958.554.1

Jul 2016

65.854.158.354.4

Aug 2016

65.954.158.555.6

Sep 2016

65.854.158.455.3

Oct 2016

65.754.158.055.3

Nov 2016

65.754.158.655.6

Dec 2016

65.754.158.755.7

Jan 2017

65.954.259.656.0

Feb 2017

65.954.459.055.9

Mar 2017

66.054.759.056.0

Apr 2017

66.254.659.855.9

May 2017

66.054.559.756.1

Jun 2017

66.154.659.855.9

Jul 2017

66.054.859.556.2

Aug 2017

66.054.658.955.9

Sep 2017

66.354.860.456.3

Oct 2017

66.054.558.956.2

Nov 2017

65.954.659.056.6

Dec 2017

66.154.559.456.8

Jan 2018

66.354.559.455.8

Feb 2018

66.654.761.456.3

Mar 2018

66.554.760.756.7

Apr 2018

66.554.760.356.0

May 2018

66.554.861.056.6

Jun 2018

66.354.959.757.2

Jul 2018

66.355.260.157.0

Aug 2018

66.154.860.456.1

Sep 2018

66.155.060.257.2

Oct 2018

66.255.160.257.1

Nov 2018

66.455.160.256.7

Dec 2018

66.255.259.656.4

Jan 2019

66.555.260.057.3

Feb 2019

66.555.360.056.7

Mar 2019

66.555.259.956.5

Apr 2019

66.455.260.356.8

May 2019

66.555.060.257.3

Jun 2019

66.655.160.056.7

Jul 2019

66.755.261.257.1

Aug 2019

66.655.460.757.1

Sep 2019

66.655.661.157.4

Oct 2019

66.555.760.957.3

Nov 2019

66.855.561.156.8

Dec 2019

66.755.761.057.9

Jan 2020

66.855.860.457.7

Feb 2020

66.855.960.658.4

Mar 2020

65.654.659.556.1

Apr 2020

57.245.850.447.4

May 2020

58.647.351.448.2

Jun 2020

60.249.551.949.9

Jul 2020

60.650.252.950.3

Aug 2020

62.051.354.151.0

Sep 2020

62.351.253.851.5

Oct 2020

63.052.155.052.5

Nov 2020

62.852.355.153.2

Dec 2020

62.952.255.552.6

Jan 2021

63.252.257.052.9

Feb 2021

63.252.556.452.5

Mar 2021

63.252.857.153.1

Apr 2021

63.452.857.353.6

May 2021

63.552.957.453.8

Jun 2021

63.552.958.353.9

Jul 2021

63.853.357.854.2

Aug 2021

64.153.457.754.8

Sep 2021

64.453.557.955.3

Oct 2021

64.653.658.454.5

Nov 2021

65.053.958.755.1

Dec 2021

65.154.358.255.0

Jan 2022

65.154.660.055.7
Percent distribution of employed Blacks or African Americans and the total workforce by selected industry and sex, 2021 annual averages
Selected industryTotal menTotal womenBlack menBlack women

Construction

12.4%1.7%7.2%0.7%

Manufacturing

12.96.011.25.3

Wholesale and retail trade

13.312.415.011.5

Transportation and utilities

8.73.214.95.3

Information

2.01.52.01.4

Financial activities

6.47.85.37.5

Professional and business services

13.711.411.58.9

Education and health services

11.036.013.640.1

Leisure and hospitality

7.79.08.37.8

Other services

4.35.24.13.9

Public administration

4.94.86.07.3

Note: Data do not sum to 100 percent because values are not shown for agriculture and related industries or for mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction.

A Labor Day Look at How American Workers Have Changed over 40 Years

Forty years ago, teenagers ages 16 to 19 made up 8 percent of all U.S. workers. By 2019, that share fell to just 3 percent. With fewer teenagers working, the face of American labor looks much different today than it did when the Bee Gees ruled the American pop charts.

Happy Labor Day! The U.S. workforce has been changing over many generations. It’s been changing with respect to the work people do. For example, an increasing share of workers is engaged in service or technology work, while a decreasing share is engaged in factory or farm work. My focus today, however, is on the people who do the work.

Here at BLS, we spend a great deal of time and effort measuring and reporting on employment. How many jobs are there this month? What kind of jobs? But as Labor Day approaches, I’d like to shift the focus away from employment and jobs and toward labor itself. Who are the people holding down the jobs that we count? What is the face of American labor? And how has labor’s profile changed—and yes, it has changed—over a generation or more?

So today I’m not going to say much about what jobs workers hold or what their jobs pay. Instead, I’ll focus on more personal characteristics of the people who hold the jobs—characteristics that are not a function of workers’ jobs, but that are intrinsic to the workers themselves. Is America’s employed population getting older or younger? Are African Americans, Hispanics and Latinos, Asians, and other groups making up an increasing share of employment? And so forth. Call it the “composition” of America’s employed population. To examine this, I’ll be using data from the Current Population Survey, or CPS, which is a large, monthly survey of many thousands of U.S. households.

BLS collects data directly from lots of employers, such as businesses and state and local governments. This data collection is behind our monthly news release about how many jobs were added or lost in the U.S. economy. It gives us a vital, current, and accurate picture of work in America—but not of workers.

To learn more about workers, rather than about just their jobs, we can’t ask their employers. We have to ask workers themselves. BLS partners with the U.S. Census Bureau each month to survey some 60,000 U.S. households about their work and other topics. We can learn at least three important things by surveying workers that we can’t learn by surveying employers. First, we can learn about things like self-employment, multiple jobholding, and “alternative” work arrangements, like so-called “gig” work. Second, we can learn about people who are not currently employed. In fact, BLS uses these data each month to measure how many are “unemployed,” roughly meaning they are actively looking for a job and available to start. Third, and most relevant here, we can learn about people’s personal characteristics—things like their age, race, and marital status, which their employers might not know or might find hard to detail in a BLS survey.

Let’s look at data from the CPS to explore how the personal characteristics of America’s employed population have shifted. I’ll share some of my own favorite nuggets of information, which I think you’ll find interesting. I’ll mostly compare 1979 with 2019—a 40-year span that roughly coincides with two peaks in U.S. employment and economic activity. The comparisons would look similar if we looked at 2020 or today, but I think the long-term trends are better understood “peak to peak” than in comparison to the more recent but very unusual COVID-19 economy. Along the way I’ll link to some BLS resources that go deeper into these topics. Let’s dive in!

Where have the teenagers gone? In 1979, 8 percent of U.S. workers were ages 16 to 19. By 2019, just 3 percent were. Over the same 40-year period, the share that were ages 16 to 24 fell from 23 percent to 12 percent. Two things happened. First, the age composition of the entire population shifted. In 1979, the tail end of the large, post-World War II “baby boom” generation was about 16 years old. The generation that came after this group was smaller, so its share of the workforce was smaller too. Second, young people’s “participation rate”—the share that were working or seeking work—declined. In fact, that rate peaked at 58 percent in 1979, then fell to 34 percent by 2011. This huge change coincided with increases in school enrollment and educational attainment. This example illustrates how two forces combine to reshape the face of American labor: the shifting composition of the working age population, and shifts in participation rates of different groups.

The American workforce has aged. Between 1979 and 2019, the fraction of the employed population that is 65 years old or older grew from 3 percent to 7 percent. The share that is 55 or older grew from 15 percent to 24 percent. Forces behind this trend include the aging of baby boomers (they are mostly 60 or older today), medical and other advances that have extended lives and health, and less physically strenuous jobs. The participation rate story is a little more complicated: As a group, today’s older women always were more likely to work for pay than their mothers or grandmothers were. Participation among older men, in contrast, first ebbed and then rebounded across these 40 years.

Percent of employed people by age, 1979–2019 annual averages

Editor’s note: Data for this chart are available in the table below.

There are more working women. By 1979, women’s share of the employed population, at 42 percent, had already been growing for some time; it was up from just 28 percent in 1948. It kept growing for about 20 more years, before leveling off at around 47 percent by 2000 and remaining there through 2019.

What’s love got to do with it? Between 1979 and 2019, the trend in marital status was more pronounced than the trend in gender. The fraction of all workers who were unmarried grew from 36 percent to 48 percent. This trend was sharper among men (31 percent to 45 percent) than women (44 percent to 51 percent).

Percent of employed people by sex and marital status, 1979 and 2019 annual averages

Editor’s note: Data for this chart are available in the table below.

Racial and ethnic diversity is changing too. The U.S. population has long been very diverse, shaped by colonization, slavery and emancipation, and migration. Over the last 40 years, workforce diversity has been shaped mostly by immigration and by differences in fertility among racial and ethnic groups. Between 1979 and 2019 the non-White fraction of all U.S. workers grew from 12 percent to 22 percent. The fraction who are Hispanic or Latino (who may be of any race) grew from 5 percent to 18 percent. A note of caution: the survey questions about race and ethnicity changed over the years, and this might skew the measurements a little, but not enough to change the story that non-Whites and Hispanics and Latinos represent a growing share of employed people. The latest survey questions provide lots of detail about diversity today.

Percent of employed people by race and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, 1979 and 2019 annual averages

Editor’s note: Data for this chart are available in the table below.

The more you survey, the more you know. Changes in the CPS and other surveys affect more than just our measures of labor diversity. Of course, we can’t measure everything all the time. Big household surveys can be expensive for taxpayers and burdensome for the thousands of households who answer the long questionnaires. Over time, we may change how we think about who we are and what we do, so survey questions must change as well. New survey questions can inform us better about where we are today, but they can make it harder to compare conditions over time. For example, beginning in 1992, the CPS questions about educational attainment were changed to emphasize degrees earned rather than years of school completed. We know that the fraction of U.S. workers age 25 or older who had a bachelor’s degree or higher grew from 27 percent in 1992 to 42 percent in 2019, but we don’t know for sure what percentage of the workforce was this educated in 1979.

The CPS has its roots in a tough time for American labor. The Great Depression of the 1930s brought mass unemployment to the United States. Back then, there was no sure way to measure the problem or track progress toward recovery. By the end of the 1930s, the U.S. launched the monthly household survey that today we call the CPS. The survey has gone through many changes, but it has measured unemployment each month since then. For economists like me, the history of the CPS is almost as interesting as the history of American labor. If you happen to be an economist or statistician yourself, BLS and the U.S. Census Bureau can tell you all you need to know about this great source of information. But not today – it’s Labor Day! Save the technical stuff for after the celebration.

Percent of employed people by age, 1979–2019 annual averages
YearAges 16–19Ages 20–24Ages 25–54Ages 55–64Age 65 and older

1979

8.2%14.5%62.6%11.7%3.0%

1980

7.814.263.411.73.0

1981

7.214.164.311.52.9

1982

6.613.865.311.52.9

1983

6.313.666.011.22.9

1984

6.113.566.810.92.7

1985

6.013.067.610.72.6

1986

5.912.668.410.42.7

1987

5.912.069.210.22.7

1988

5.911.569.89.92.8

1989

5.811.070.59.82.9

1990

5.511.370.99.42.8

1991

5.011.071.89.32.8

1992

4.810.972.39.32.8

1993

4.810.772.59.22.8

1994

5.010.472.59.13.0

1995

5.110.072.89.22.9

1996

5.19.673.19.32.9

1997

5.19.672.99.52.9

1998

5.49.672.59.82.8

1999

5.49.772.110.02.9

2000

5.39.771.810.23.1

2001

4.99.771.510.73.1

2002

4.69.870.911.53.2

2003

4.39.870.612.13.3

2004

4.29.970.012.43.5

2005

4.29.769.512.93.6

2006

4.39.669.013.43.7

2007

4.09.668.813.83.8

2008

3.89.468.414.34.1

2009

3.59.168.015.04.4

2010

3.19.167.715.64.5

2011

3.19.367.015.94.8

2012

3.19.466.116.35.1

2013

3.19.465.616.55.3

2014

3.19.565.316.75.4

2015

3.29.464.916.85.7

2016

3.39.364.716.95.9

2017

3.39.264.517.06.0

2018

3.39.064.417.16.2

2019

3.39.064.117.16.6

2020

3.28.564.517.26.6
Percent of employed people by sex and marital status, 1979 and 2019 annual averages
Marital status1979, total2019, total1979, men2019, men1979, women2019, women

Married, spouse present

63.6%52.3%69.0%55.0%56.1%49.1%

Never married

24.132.323.332.625.231.9

Widowed, divorced, and separated

12.315.57.712.318.719.0
Percent of employed people by race and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, 1979 and 2019 annual averages
YearWhiteNot WhiteHispanic or Latino

1979

88.3%11.7%4.8%

2019

77.722.317.6