labour force

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Related to labor forces: Participation rate

Labor Force

The portion of a population available for work. For example, if there are 10,000 people in a town including 2,000 children and 3,000 retirees and chronically ill persons, the labor force is the remaining 5,000. The labor force may or may not include unemployed persons who do not wish to work. The unemployment rate is determined by calculating the unemployed persons in the labor force, not the general population.
UK labour force Q1 (Jan-March) 2004click for a larger image
Fig. 48 UK labour force Q1 (Jan-March) 2004. Source: Monthly Digest of Statistics, Dec. 2004, ONS.

labour force

or

workforce

  1. the total number of people employed by a firm or some other organization to produce goods and services.
  2. the number of people currently in employment in an ECONOMY together with the number of people currently unemployed but actively seeking work. Fig. 48 shows labour statistics for the UK in Q1, 2004. This data is derived from the UK's monthly ‘LABOUR FORCE SURVEY’ using definitions recommended by the INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANIZATION (ILO) and covering men in the population age group 16 years to 64 and women in the population age group 16 years to 59. People serving in the Armed Forces are not included in the Survey.

    The labour force is made up of people in employment (employees, self-employment, unpaid family workers and people on government training and employment programmes) which together with ‘ILO unemployed’ equals ‘total economically active’. In Q1, 2004 the labour force numbered 29,759,000 people of which 82% were employees, 12% were self-employed and 4% were unemployed. In addition 17,378,000 people were classified as ‘economically inactive’ (i.e. not in employment or seeking work) giving an employment rate of 75% (economically active as a % of the combined total of economically active and inactive). The labour force can be broken down in various other ways depending upon the purpose in hand. For example, men accounted for 51% of the labour force and women 49%. The proportion of women in the labour force has risen significantly in the last 20 years, reflecting in part the growing incidence of part-time work. In Q1, 2004 the number of part-time workers totalled 25% of the employed labour force and full-time workers 75%. In 1990, the respective figures were 21% and 79%. The distribution of employees in the employed labour force by industrial activity has changed over time with a growing proportion of people being employed in the service industries.

    In 2004,70% of employees were engaged in the service sector, 25% in the manufacturing and production sector (including gas, water and electricity), 4% in construction and 1% in the primary sector (agriculture and mining).

Labour forceclick for a larger image
Fig. 107 Labour force. (a) UK labour force, third quarter, 2004. Source: Monthly Digest of Statistics, January 2005, Office for National Statistics. (b) Labour force for selected countries, 2004. Source: OECD.

labour force

or

working population

the number of people currently in employment together with the number of people currently unemployed but actively seeking work. Fig. 107 (a) shows labour statistics for the UK in the first quarter (Q1) of 2004. This data is derived from the UK's three-monthly LABOUR FORCE SURVEY, using definitions recommended by the INTERNATIONAL LABOUR OFFICE (ILO) and covering men in the population age group 16–64 and women in the population age group 16–59. People serving in the Armed Forces are not included in the Survey.

The labour force is made up of people in employment (employees, self-employed, unpaid family workers and people on government training and employment programmes) who, together with ‘ILO unemployed’, equal the ‘total economically active’ population’ (see ACTIVITY RATE). In Q1, 2004, the labour force numbered 29,759,000 people, of which 82% were employees, 11% were self-employed and 6% were unemployed. In addition, 17,378,000 people were classified as ‘economically inactive’ (i.e. not in employment or seeking work), giving an employment rate of 75% (economically active as a percentage of the combined total of economically active and inactive). The labour force can be broken down in various other ways depending upon the purpose in hand. For example, men accounted for 50.3% of employees and women 49.7% in Q1, 2004. The proportion of women in the labour force has risen significantly in the last 20 years, reflecting in part the growing incidence of part-time work. In Q1, 2004, the number of part-time workers totalled 31% of the employed labour force and full-time workers 69%. In 1990, the respective figures were 21% and 79 %. The distribution of employees in the employed labour force by industrial activity has changed over time, with a growing population of people being employed in the service industries.

In 2004, 76% of employees were engaged in the service sector, 19% in the manufacturing and production sector (including gas, water and electricity), 4% in construction and 1% in the primary sector (agriculture and mining).

The labour force, together with the CAPITAL STOCK, determine a country's AGGREGATE SUPPLY potential. Fig. 107 (b) gives details of the labour force for four major industrial countries. See LABOUR MARKET, POTENTIAL GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT, ECONOMIC GROWTH.