Overview of the Employment-Population Ratio [May 27, 2015]   [open pdf - 363KB]

"The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) defines the employment-population ratio as the ratio of total civilian employment to the civilian noninstitutional population. Simply put, it is the portion of the population that is employed. The ratio is used primarily as a measure of job holders and to track the pace of job creation, relative to the adult population, over time. The employment-population ratio has several properties that make it an attractive indicator for labor market analysis. It is easy to interpret and can be used to make meaningful comparisons across time and groups with dissimilar population size. Because it takes into account both the impacts of labor force participation and unemployment, it is a useful summary measure when those forces place countervailing pressures on employment. Like all labor market indicators, it has limits. For example, it does not distinguish between part-time and full-time employment, and it is silent on wages, benefits, and job conditions. Trends in the employment-population ratio also do not provide information about job flows (i.e., whether a drop in employment represents more people exiting employment or fewer new entrants). […] These patterns should be taken in the context of shifting demographics and other recent developments in the United States."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R44055
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