There is little question that the U.S. labor market is improving. Job growth has accelerated in recent months and unemployment has been falling. There are some that believe that the ongoing improvement of the nation’s job market will eventually pull more people back into the labor force.
As of last month, only 63 percent of Americans over the age of 16 were participating in the labor force, meaning that they either are a jobholder or are actively looking for one. That figure is near a 36 year low. Labor force participation for prime age men, meaning those ages 25 to 54, has been declining since the 1950's and it’s been in decline among prime age women since the late 1990's. A recently released report from the president’s Council of Economic Advisors indicates that those hoping for greater participation will continue to be frustrated.
There are a number of explanatory factors, including the fact that more Americans are approaching retirement age. Immigration could help reverse this trend. A report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Senate’s immigration reform bill could increase the U.S. labor force by 6 million people by 2023.