Jun 2, 2023 - Economy

Prime-age workers hit labor market milestone

Data: U.S. Department of Labor; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: U.S. Department of Labor; Chart: Axios Visuals

There is a quiet, defining feature of the hot labor market of the 2020s: a booming share of prime-age workers — those between 25 and 54 — who either have a job or are looking for one.

Why it matters: That continued last month. The labor force participation rate among this cohort is at the highest level since January 2007, according to this morning’s jobs report.

Flashback: When the pandemic hit, there were forces (including fear of the illness itself) that kept more workers on the sidelines.

  • That left economic policymakers pessimistic that an inflow of workers would help heal labor shortages.

Where it stands: The opposite has been the case. Labor force participation among those most likely to want to work has fully recovered from pandemic lows.

  • It also hit a milestone it couldn't reach in the last decade: full recovery from its post-2008 financial crisis slump.

Of note: There are new highs among key demographics, including prime-age women. Their labor force participation rate hit an all-time high in May.

The bottom line: This is the chart to show anyone who says Americans don’t want to work anymore.

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