Labor force nonparticipation: trends, causes, and policy solutions

Labour market Labour force Labour force participation United States of America

Over the last two decades the U.S. labor force participation rate has fallen. We explore this decline, emphasizing the effect of population aging as well as patterns by age, gender, race, and education, and assessing potential explanations. The Hamilton Project has offered evidence-based policy proposals for more than a decade on a variety of topics that often have important implications for labor force participation, even if those proposals are primarily aimed at other subjects like poverty, wage growth, regional inequality, or women’s role in the economy. In this paper, we discuss these proposals as they relate to the goal of increasing participation, with a special focus on impediments to increased participation from aggregate demand, demand for non-college-educated workers, geographic gaps in participation, caregiving responsibilities, health and disability, and criminal justice.

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