Report: America's Dynamic Workforce - August, 2006
America’s Dynamic Workforce: 2006
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
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.