Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New Analyses of Census Data Examine Nation’s 65+ Labor Force, Working Students, Changes in Self-Employment

Three new American Community Survey briefs released today from the U.S. Census Bureau focus on individuals 65 and older in the labor force, students who are working or have worked in the past year, and the self-employed.

The percentage of people 65 and older in the labor force increased from 12.1 percent in 1990 to 16.1 percent in 2010. The increase was greater for women.

“As with all age groups, the increase in labor force participation of women has been a driving factor for this overall trend,” said Braedyn Kromer, an analyst in the Census Bureau’s Labor Force Statistics Branch.

Between 1990 and 2010, women 65 and older experienced a 4.1 percentage point increase in labor force participation, while women 16 to 64 experienced a 1.9 percentage point increase. This compares with a 3.2 percentage point increase in the labor force participation rate for men 65 and older and a 5.2 percentage point decline in the participation rate for men 16 to 64.

These statistics are part of a series of short, topic-based briefs produced to highlight results from the 2011 American Community Survey. The three briefs released are Labor Force Participation and Work Status of People 65 Years and Older, and School Enrollment and Work Status: 2011, and Changes in Self-Employment: 2010 to 2011.

“The American Community Survey allows us to measure important demographic characteristics of the nation's labor force and helps identify the impacts of changes in the labor market,” said Jennifer Cheeseman Day, assistant division chief for employment characteristics in the Census Bureau's Social, Economic and Housing Statistics Division.

The School Enrollment and Work Status: 2011 brief highlights statistics on school enrollment and examines the proportion of students who worked and the amount of time they worked over the previous year. For example, the majority of undergraduate college students, 72 percent, worked during the year. Some other highlights included in the brief are:

--In 2011, 20 percent of college undergraduate students worked full-time, year-round.
--Almost half of graduate students worked full-time, year-round.
--The majority of graduate students, 82 percent, worked at least part-time during the year.

The Changes in Self-Employment: 2010 to 2011 brief examines changes in self-employment from 2010 to 2011 for the United States, the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Self-employment refers to individuals working in their own incorporated or nonincorporated businesses. Some highlights included in the brief are:

--Incorporated self-employment fell as a share of total employment nationally and in 13 states between 2010 and 2011. It increased in one state and was essentially unchanged in 36 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
--From 2010 to 2011, the share of nonincorporated self-employment of total employment decreased nationally and in five states (Colorado, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas) and the District of Columbia. It increased in one state and Puerto Rico and was essentially unchanged in 44 states.
--In general, incorporated self-employed workers were more likely to work in management and professional occupations and had higher employment outcomes in 2011 than nonincorporated self-employed workers. The higher employment outcomes show that they were more likely to work full-time, year-round, have health insurance and earned higher incomes.

The American Community Survey provides a wide range of important statistics about people and housing for every community across the nation. The results are used by everyone from town and city planners to retailers and homebuilders. The survey is the only source of local estimates for most of the 40 topics it covers, such as education, occupation, language, ancestry and housing costs for even the smallest communities. Ever since Thomas Jefferson directed the first census in 1790, the census has collected detailed characteristics about our nation's people. Questions about jobs and the economy were added 20 years later under James Madison, who said such information would allow Congress to "adapt the public measures to the particular circumstances of the community," and over the decades, allow America "an opportunity of marking the progress of the society."

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