BLS Employment Participation Rate is Probably Wrong

This week the US Census announced the results of the 2010 USA Census (Econintersect coverage here).   The population grew 9.7% in the last 10 years according the US Census.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics – the civilian non-institutional population grew almost 12%.

This amounts to 2% or 4.7 million people too many in the pool of people being considered as a potential member of the workforce.   This would cause a distortion of the participation rate calculations the BLS is providing – in other words, the current situation may be less bad.

According to the BLS (private communication to GEI from Mary Bowler):

The civilian noninstitututional population estimates published with the labor force data from the Current Population Survey are still being estimated off the Census 2000 population base, with adjustments made each year during the intercensal period.

We will not implement population adjustments based on Census 2010 into the Current Population Survey until the release of labor force data for January 2012, a little over a year from now.   Until then, we will not know the nature of the adjustment to the civilian noninstitutional population resulting from Census 2010.

For information on how the intercensal population estimates are developed, please see the Census Bureau’s website at

Until Jan 2012, use the participation rate data at your own risk.

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