If you want to know how the labor market has changed over time, you usually look at the unemployment rate or maybe the employment-to-population ratio. But while those summary statistics are important, they don’t tell us about what people outside the labor force are doing. Are they in school? Acting as a primary caregiver? Disabled? Retired from the workforce?
The chances a worker is in any of those roles at a specific age during their life has changed quite a bit over the years. Inspired by Matt Bruenig of Demos, we looked at the trends in labor force status by age since 1975, using data from the Current Population Survey.
The interactive graph below shows the share of U.S. workers at different ages who are: