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Report: America's Dynamic Workforce - August, 2006

Executive Summary

America's Dynamic Workforce: 2006 Cover Page

America’s Dynamic Workforce: 2006
is presented in two versions:

Full Text (PDF) - The full text version includes extensive discussion and additional data and analysis beyond the basic charts presented.

Chart Book (PDF) - The chart book version features larger format charts for easier reading and summary text extracts related to each chart.

America’s Dynamic Workforce: 2006 presents an overview of current conditions and notable trends affecting the American labor market and economic activity. Primary emphasis is on measures of labor market performance – employment, labor force participation, unemployment, and compensation. General measures of economic performance such as gross domestic product (GDP) and productivity growth are also described as they relate to labor market conditions and trends.

Throughout this report the focus is on the data – what the numbers actually say about the American labor market – and on how individual data items fit together to present an overall portrait of the health and dynamism of the market.

The report shows that the American labor market is strong and resilient. Labor market indicators describe an economy that is creating jobs, expanding output, and rewarding work with good compensation. Since job growth began recovering in 2003 from the effects of the last recession, the economy has tallied 34 consecutive months of job gains (through June 2006, the latest data available for this report). Employment has reached new record heights.

The report also recognizes that even as our economy grows steadily, there are challenges. The United States and the world are experiencing a major economic transformation. Technology has accelerated the pace of change and the United States is transitioning to a knowledge-based economy.

Good jobs are being created in large numbers. In fact, the majority of employment growth over the past five years was in occupations with above-average compensation. But there is a caveat. Most of the new jobs projected for the future are expected to be filled by persons with some kind of post-secondary education. Education to gain the knowledge and skills that are in demand is the key to success in America’s dynamic labor market.

Workers who bring to the labor market the knowledge and skills that today’s competitive economy demands are finding good jobs and rising compensation.

There are six chapters:

  • Chapter 1 - summarizes the current levels and trends of payroll jobs, total employment, job openings, turnover, unemployment, and GDP. 2005 was a good year for American workers, and the first half of 2006 continued the strong trend. In 2005, job growth resulted in 2.0 million net new jobs, and the unemployment rate averaged 5.1 percent over the year. The pace of job growth in the first half of 2006 suggests that we are moving into a steady and sustainable economic path. With the unemployment rate dropping below 5 percent in the first half of 2006, the labor market outlook is favorable for those seeking to enter or re-enter the labor market.
  • Chapter 2 - provides a global context for understanding the U.S. labor market and compares the United States and other countries along common dimensions of labor market indicators. The successful record of the United States across a broad range of indicators and over an extended time period is remarkable for a mature industrial economy. The fact that the United States has achieved these results in the face of growing world-wide competition and other challenges, both natural and man-made, is a further testament to the robustness and resilience of an economic system based on free and open markets.
  • Chapter 3 - presents an overview of patterns, recent trends and projections regarding the distribution of employment across industries and occupations. Robust total job growth has masked significant changes in the industrial and occupational structure of the labor market. Employment growth rates have varied widely among industries as changing demand, technology and global competition have reshaped the labor market. The willingness of American workers to adapt to changing realities, to learn new skills, and to seize new opportunities has helped keep employment growth high and unemployment low.
  • Chapter 4 - examines the educational attainment of the labor force, including trends and comparisons of employment, earnings, and unemployment relative to educational attainment. The 101.1 million Americans ages 25 and older who had completed some post-secondary education in 2005 comprised a valuable national asset of knowledge, skill, and experience. The 21st century labor market seeks and rewards workers who can offer the educational foundation, technical skills and creative flexibility that employers need to compete and to adapt to changing needs successfully.
  • Chapter 5 - examines the concept of labor force flexibility in terms of schedules, work arrangements, and other factors. Flexibility is a hallmark of the American labor market, which places a high value on the freedom to choose one’s work and the terms of employment. Flexibility allows workers to take advantage of new opportunities and to move from one job to another. Employers and workers need flexibility to respond and adapt to changes in the global economy as well as technological innovations, allowing new opportunities for when, where, and how we work.
  • Chapter 6 - highlights the dimensions of opportunity in the American workforce, including dynamic age, gender, race, and ethnicity perspectives. Robust job growth and falling unemployment rates over the past two years have benefited Americans across the spectrum of age, gender, race and ethnicity. Opportunity is a core value for Americans, and America’s dynamic labor market is a key source of opportunity. The American economy rewards effort, initiative, knowledge, experience and innovation. Strong employment growth, low unemployment, and good wages provide all Americans opportunities to prosper.

America’s Dynamic Workforce: 2006 is presented in two versions:

Full Text (PDF 686 KB) - The full text version includes extensive discussion and additional data and analysis beyond the basic charts presented.

Chart Book (PDF 662 KB) - The chart book version features larger format charts for easier reading and summary text extracts related to each chart.