What is a labor force?


LABOR FORCE, a term variously defined in different countries and by different authorities, but most generally accepted to comprise ali those persons who, whether employed by others or self-employed, are working for a living on a full-time, part-time, or temporary basis, or who are seeking employment. The term has sometimes been limited to identifying only those individuals actually gainfully employed.
Prior to the 1940 census, the United States government calculated the labor force as con-sisting of ali persons 10 years of age and over who themselves reported “gainful” occupations, whether they were working or not, and generally excluded new job-seekers without previous experience in a gainful occupation. Starting in 1940 the age level was raised to 14 and the “gainful employment” concept was displaced. Federal agencies subsequently considered the total labor force to comprise ali persons 14 years of age or older who, during a specified time, are employed by others or are self-employed, are seeking work, are temporarily laid off, or are serving in the armed forces. The majör labor force component, “civilian labor force,” is divided into “employed” and “unemployed” categories. Employed persons are those who work for pay or profit; work with-out pay for 15 hours or more in a family enter-prise, such as a farm or business; or have a job or business but are not working because of illness, bad weather, a vacation, or a labor dispute. Unemployed individuals are considered to be those who are looking for work, are temporarily laid off, or are about to report to a new job.

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