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NC State Ag Economist Dr. Mike Walden – “Who is Returning to the Workforce?”



Mary:  I’m Mary Walden, with economist MW, welcoming you to the economic perspective.   Today’s program asks who is returning to the workforce.  Mike, one of the good-news items in the economy recently has been the rise in the labor force participation rate.  This rate measures the share of working age individuals who either have a job or are looking for a job.  Do we know who is responsible for the improvement in the labor force participation rate?


Mike:  Summary Answer

  1. analysis shows it is the return of women to the workforce, mainly to lower-

skilled jobs in the education and health fields and the leisure and hospitality


  1. often jobs here are the first to be cut when a recession hits and the last to be

restored when a recovery comes

  1. also, researchers have found that labor market decisions for women depend

more on the level of wages than for men – so the recent improvement in wages

would be more of a factor for women

  1. these results highlight a problem for men – particularly unskilled men – with a

large number not in the labor force, even though they are able bodied

  1. there’s even added worry for young men (25-34) – a recent study showed a

significant number are not in the labor force due to the attraction of video


  1. I’m MW


Mary:  And I’m Mary Walden for N C State Extension