Labor force

Labor force

Overview
In economics
Economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

, a labor force or labour force is a region's combined civilian workforce
Workforce
The workforce is the labour pool in employment. It is generally used to describe those working for a single company or industry, but can also apply to a geographic region like a city, country, state, etc. The term generally excludes the employers or management, and implies those involved in...

, including both the employed and unemployed.

Normally, the labor force of a country (or other geographic entity) consists of everyone of working age (typically above a certain age (around 14 to 16) and below retirement (around 65) who are participating workers, that is people actively employed or seeking employment.
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Encyclopedia
In economics
Economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

, a labor force or labour force is a region's combined civilian workforce
Workforce
The workforce is the labour pool in employment. It is generally used to describe those working for a single company or industry, but can also apply to a geographic region like a city, country, state, etc. The term generally excludes the employers or management, and implies those involved in...

, including both the employed and unemployed.

Normally, the labor force of a country (or other geographic entity) consists of everyone of working age (typically above a certain age (around 14 to 16) and below retirement (around 65) who are participating workers, that is people actively employed or seeking employment. People not counted include students, retired people, stay-at-home parents, people in prisons or similar institutions, people employed in jobs or professions with unreported income, as well as discouraged worker
Discouraged worker
Not to be confused with Disgruntled worker.In economics, a discouraged worker is a person of legal employment age who is not actively seeking employment or who does not find employment after long-term unemployment...

s who cannot find work.

Labor force in the United States


In the United States, the unemployment rate is estimated by a household survey called the Current Population Survey, conducted monthly by the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate is calculated by dividing the number of unemployed persons by the size of the workforce. An unemployed person is defined as a person not employed but actively seeking work. The size of the workforce is defined as those employed plus those unemployed.
The labor force participation rate is the ratio between the labor force and the overall size of their cohort (national population of the same age range). In the West
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 during the later half of the 20th century, the labor force participation rate increased significantly, largely due to the increasing number of women entering the workplace.

In the United States, there were three significant stages of women’s increased participation in the labor force. During the late 19th century through the 1920s, very few women worked. They were young single women who typically withdrew from labor force at marriage unless family needed two incomes. These women worked primarily in the textile manufacturing
Textile manufacturing
Textile manufacturing is a major industry. It is based in the conversion of three types of fibre into yarn, then fabric, then textiles. These are then fabricated into clothes or other artifacts. Cotton remains the most important natural fibre, so is treated in depth...

 industry or as domestic workers. This profession empowered women and allowed them to earn a living wage. At times, they were a financial help to their families. Between 1930 and 1950, women labor force participation has increased primarily due to the increased demand for office workers, women participation in the high school movement, and due to electrification
Electrification
Electrification originally referred to the build out of the electrical generating and distribution systems which occurred in the United States, England and other countries from the mid 1880's until around 1940 and is in progress in developing countries. This also included the change over from line...

 which reduced the time spent on household chores. In the 1950s to the 1970s, most women were secondary earners working mainly as secretaries, teachers, nurses, and librarians (pink-collar jobs). Claudia Goldin and others, specifically point that by the mid-1970s there was a period of revolution of women in the labor force brought on by a source of different factors. Women more accurately planned for their future in the work force, investing in more applicable majors in college that prepared them to enter and compete in the labor market. In the United States, the labor force participation rate rose from approximately 59% in 1948 to 66% in 2005, with participation among women rising from 32% to 59% and participation among men declining from 87% to 73%.

A common theory in modern economics claims that the rise of women participating in the US labor force in the late 1960s was due to the introduction of a new contraceptive technology, birth control pills, and the adjustment of age of majority laws. The use of birth control gave women the flexibility of opting to invest and advance their career while maintaining a relationship. By having control over the timing of their fertility, they were not running a risk of thwarting their career choices. However, only 40% of the population actually used the birth control pill. This implies that other factors may have contributed to women choosing to invest in advancing their careers. One factor may be that more and more men delayed the age of marriage, allowing women to marry later in life without worrying about the quality of older men.

Another factor that may have contributed to the trend was the The Equal Pay Act of 1963
Equal Pay Act of 1963
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 is a United States federal law amending the Fair Labor Standards Act, aimed at abolishing wage disparity based on sex . It was signed into law on June 10, 1963 by John F. Kennedy as part of his New Frontier Program...

, which aimed at abolishing wage disparity based on sex. Such legislation diminished sexual discrimination and encouraged more women to enter the labor market by receiving fair remuneration to help raising families and children.

The labor force participation rate can decrease when the rate of growth of the population outweighs that of the employed and unemployed together. The labor force participation rate is a key component in long-term economic growth
Economic growth
In economics, economic growth is defined as the increasing capacity of the economy to satisfy the wants of goods and services of the members of society. Economic growth is enabled by increases in productivity, which lowers the inputs for a given amount of output. Lowered costs increase demand...

, almost as important as productivity
Productivity
Productivity is a measure of the efficiency of production. Productivity is a ratio of what is produced to what is required to produce it. Usually this ratio is in the form of an average, expressing the total output divided by the total input...

.

Pop = total population

LF = labor force = U + E

LFpop = labor force population (generally defined as all men and women aged 15-64)

p = participation rate = LF / LFpop

E = number employed

e = rate of employment = E / LF

U = number of unemployed

u = rate of unemployment = U / LF
The labor force participation rate explains how an increase in the unemployment rate can occur simultaneously with an increase in employment. If a large amount of new workers enter the labor force but only a small fraction become employed, then the increase in the number of unemployed workers can outpace the growth in employment.

Formal and informal labor


Formal labor is any sort of employment
Employment
Employment is a contract between two parties, one being the employer and the other being the employee. An employee may be defined as:- Employee :...

 that is structured and paid in a formal way. Unlike the informal sector of the economy, formal labor within a country contributes to that country’s gross national product. Informal labor is labor that falls short of being a formal arrangement in law or in practice. Informal labor can be paid or unpaid and it is always unstructured and unregulated. Formal employment is more reliable than informal employment. Generally, the former yields higher income and greater benefits and securities for both men and women.

Informal labor in the world


The contribution of informal laborers is immense. Informal labor is expanding globally, most significantly in developing countries. According to a study done by Jacques Charmes, in the year 2000 informal labor made up 57% of non-agricultural employment, 40% of urban employment, and 83% of the new jobs in Latin America. That same year, informal labor made up 78% of non-agricultural employment, 61% of urban employment, and 93% of the new jobs in Africa. Particularly after an economic crisis, laborers tend to shift from the formal sector to the informal sector. This trend was seen after the Asian economic crisis which began in 1997.

Informal labor and gender


Gender
Gender
Gender is a range of characteristics used to distinguish between males and females, particularly in the cases of men and women and the masculine and feminine attributes assigned to them. Depending on the context, the discriminating characteristics vary from sex to social role to gender identity...

 is frequently associated with informal labor. Women are employed more often informally than they are formally, and informal labor is an overall larger source of employment for females than it is for males. Women frequent the informal sector of the economy through occupations like home-based workers and street vendors. The Penguin Atlas of Women in the World shows that in the 1990s, 81% of women in Benin were street vendors, 55% in Guatemala, 44% in Mexico, 33% in Kenya, and 14% in India. Overall, 60% of women workers in the developing world are employed in the informal sector. The specific percentages are 84% and 58% for women in Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...

 and Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

 respectively. The percentages for men in both of these areas of the world are lower, amounting to 63% and 48% respectively. In Asia, 65% of women workers and 65% of men workers are employed in the informal sector. Globally, a large percentage of women that are formally employed also work in the informal sector behind the scenes. These women make up the hidden work force.

Agricultural and non-agricultural labor


Formal and informal labor can be divided into the subcategories of agricultural work and non-agricultural work. Martha Chen
Martha Chen
Martha Alter Chen is an American academic, scholar and social worker, who presently a Lecturer in Public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and International Coordinator of the global research-policy-action network WIEGO . Dr...

 et al. believe these four categories of labor are closely related to one another. A majority of agricultural work is informal, which the Penguin Atlas for Women in the World defines as unregistered or unstructured. Non-agricultural work can also be informal. According to Martha Chen, informal labor makes up 48% of non-agricultural work in North Africa, 51% in Latin America, 65% in Asia, and 72% in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Agriculture and gender


The agricultural sector of the economy is shrinking while the percentage of women who are employed in the agricultural sector is increasing. According to the Penguin Atlas of Women in the World, women make up 40% of the agricultural labor force in most parts of the world, while in developing countries they make up 67% of the agricultural workforce. Joni Seager shows in her atlas that specific tasks within agricultural work are also gendered. For example, for the production of wheat in a village in Northwest China, men perform the ploughing, the planting, and the spraying, while women perform the weeding, the fertilizing, the processing, and the storage. In terms of food production worldwide, the atlas shows that women produce 80% of the food in Sub-Saharan Africa, 50% in Asia, 45% in the Caribbean, 25% in North Africa and in the Middle East, and 25% in Latin America. A majority of the work women do on the farm is considered housework and is therefore negligible in employment statistics.

Paid and unpaid labor


Paid and unpaid work are also closely related with formal and informal labor. Some informal work is unpaid, or paid under the table. Unpaid work can be work that is done at home to sustain a family, like child care work, or actual habitual daily labor that is not monetarily rewarded, like working the fields. Unpaid workers have zero earnings
Earnings
Earnings are the net benefits of a Corporation's operation. Earnings is also the amount on which corporate tax is due. For an analysis of specific aspects of corporate operations several more specific terms are used as EBIT -- earnings before interest and taxes, EBITDA - earnings before...

, and although their work is valuable, it is hard to estimate its true value. Feminists have worked long and hard to come up with a way of monetizing and bringing value to women’s unpaid labor. The controversial debate still stands. Men and women tend to work in different areas of the economy, regardless of whether their work is paid or unpaid. Women focus on the service sector, while men focus on the industrial sector. When men and women do hold the same positions, there is quite often a income gender gap.

Unpaid labor and gender


Women usually work fewer hours in income generating jobs than men do. Oftentimes it is household work that is unpaid. Worldwide, women and girls are responsible for a great amount of household work. One measurement that feminists have created to give a value to unpaid household work is to compare the hours spend on activities within the home by men and women. The Penguin Atlas of Women in the World shows that in Madagascar, women spend 20 hours per week on housework, while men spend only two. In Mexico, women spend 33 hours and men spend 5 hours. In Mongolia the housework hours amount to 27 and 12 for women and men respectively. In Spain, women spend 26 hours on housework and men spend 4 hours. Only in the Netherlands do men spend 10% more time than women do on activities within the home or for the household. Joni Seager also shows in the atlas that in developing countries, women and girls spend a significant amount of time fetching water for the week, while men do not. For example, in Malawi women spend 6.3 hours per week fetching water, while men spend 43 minutes on this activity. Similarly, girls in Malawi spend 3.3 hours per week fetching water, and boys spend 1.1 hours. Even if women and men both spend time on household work and other unpaid activities, this work is also gendered.

See also

  • Workforce
    Workforce
    The workforce is the labour pool in employment. It is generally used to describe those working for a single company or industry, but can also apply to a geographic region like a city, country, state, etc. The term generally excludes the employers or management, and implies those involved in...

  • Unemployment
    Unemployment
    Unemployment , as defined by the International Labour Organization, occurs when people are without jobs and they have actively sought work within the past four weeks...

  • List of countries by labor force
  • Feminization of poverty
    Feminization of poverty
    Feminization of poverty describes a phenomenon in which women represent disproportionate percentages of world’s poor. UNIFEM describes it as "the burden of poverty borne by women, especially in developing countries"...

  • Feminization of labor
    Feminization of Labor
    The feminization of labor is a term used to describe emerging gendered labor relations born out of the rise of global capitalism. For instance, manufacturing jobs are now considered women's work.-Globalization and female labor:...


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