We’ve noted how Labor Day is a national holiday wrapped in surprising irony. This year we look at the numbers that define today’s American workforce, with a focus on some of the primary issues revealing both the progress and plights of U.S. labor, and its laborers.
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The Working American
158.5 million – The number of working Americans age 16 and over. (BLS)
25.4 minutes – Average commute time for the typical American worker. (US Census Bureau as reported by WNYC)
$2600 – Average annual cost of commuting to work. (Citi Commuter Index as reported by CNN )
34.4 hours – Average number of hours Americans work per week. This is consistent with this year’s BLS July report which clocks the typical workweek at 34.5 hours. The U.S. ranks 16th in the world for the longest workweek. (OECD)
15 million – The number of people who were self-employed in 2015, making up 10.1 percent of the U.S. workforce. ( BLS)
53.5 million – The number of millennials in the workforce. Millennials became the largest generation in the labor force in 2015. (Pew Research)
18.8 percent – Percentage of Americans 65 years or older who are working full- or part-time. Pew Research notes that there are more older Americans of this age working today than at any other time since the turn of the century.
11.1 percent – The percentage of the workforce who are union members, down from 25.4 percent in 1979. (Economic Policy Institute)
The Signs of Stalled Recovery
12.9 million – The number of jobs added to the economy since June 2009, the official end of the Great Recession. (Center for American Progress)
However, many economists are pointing to a few key metrics which have yet to fully recover, namely unemployment and wage growth.
28 weeks – Average length of unemployment as of July of this year. The Center of Economic Policy and Research (CEPR) notes that this duration is historically high and more characteristic with a recession than with a strong labor market. The BLS considers anyone unemployed for 27 weeks or more as long-term unemployed.
2 percent – Average year-over-year growth in nominal wages since the Great Recession. Right before the recession, nominal wages ticked up by about 4% annually. (CEPR)
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The State of Wage Equality, Workforce Diversity & Veteran Employment
47 percent – Percentage of women in the workforce . (Department of Labor)
79 cents – The amount U.S. women earn for every dollar earned by American men when comparing women’s median annual earnings of full-time, year-round workers as a percentage of men’s. 50 years ago in 1964, the ratio was 59 cents to one dollar. Women currently make up 47 percent of the workforce. (Department of Labor)
Two-thirds – The share of minimum wage earners who are women. (Deptartment of Labor)
80 cents – Roughly the amount college-educated black and Hispanic men earn for every dollar white college educated men earn ($25 and $26 vs. $32, respectively). (Pew Research)
29 percent – The share of women in Executive positions in the overall private sector, with 71 percent of Executive positions held by men. In high tech, the share of women Executives is 20 percent. (EEOC)
21.2 million – The number of men and women U.S. veterans–about 9 percent of the civilian population age 18 and over. (BLS)
495,000 – The number of unemployed veterans in 2015. (BLS)
5.4 percent – Unemployment rate for female veterans which has changed very little in the past year compared to that of male veterans which declined to 4.5 percent. (BLS)