The workforce or labour force (labor force in American English; see spelling differences) is the labour pool in employment. It is generally used to describe those working for a single company or industry, but can also apply to a geographic region like a city, state, or country. Within a company, its value can be labelled as its "Workforce in Place". The workforce of a country includes both the employed and the unemployed. The labour force participation rate, LFPR (or economic activity rate, EAR), is the ratio between the labour force and the overall size of their cohort (national population of the same age range). The term generally excludes the employers or management, and can imply those involved in manual labour. It may also mean all those who are available for work.

Formal and informal

Formal labour is any sort of employment that is structured and paid in a formal way.[1] Unlike the informal sector of the economy, formal labour within a country contributes to that country's gross national product.[2] Informal labour is labour that falls short of being a formal arrangement in law or in practice.[3] It can be paid or unpaid and it is always unstructured and unregulated.[4] Formal employment is more reliable than informal employment. Generally, the former yields higher income and greater benefits and securities for both men and women.[5]

Informal labour

The contribution of informal labourers is immense. Informal labour is expanding globally, most significantly in developing countries.[6] According to a study done by Jacques Charmes, in the year 2000 informal labour made up 57% of non-agricultural employment, 40% of urban employment, and 83% of the new jobs in Latin America. That same year, informal labour made up 78% of non-agricultural employment, 61% of urban employment, and 93% of the new jobs in Africa.[7] Particularly after an economic crisis, labourers tend to shift from the formal sector to the informal sector. This trend was seen after the Asian economic crisis which began in 1997.[6]

Informal labour and gender

Gender is frequently associated with informal labour. Women are employed more often informally than they are formally, and informal labour is an overall larger source of employment for females than it is for males.[5] Women frequent the informal sector of the economy through occupations like home-based workers and street vendors.[6] The Penguin Atlas of Women in the World shows that in the 1990s, 81% of women in Benin were street vendors, 55% in Guatemala, 44% in Mexico, 33% in Kenya, and 14% in India. Overall, 60% of women workers in the developing world are employed in the informal sector.[1]

The specific percentages are 84% and 58% for women in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America respectively.[1] The percentages for men in both of these areas of the world are lower, amounting to 63% and 48% respectively.[1] In Asia, 65% of women workers and 65% of men workers are employed in the informal sector.[1] Globally, a large percentage of women that are formally employed also work in the informal sector behind the scenes. These women make up the hidden work force.[1]

Agricultural and non-agricultural labour

Employed civilians by occupation and sex - 2007
This is a chart showing employed civilians by occupation and sex in 2007 in the US

Formal and informal labour can be divided into the subcategories of agricultural work and non-agricultural work. Martha Chen et al. believe these four categories of labour are closely related to one another.[8] A majority of agricultural work is informal, which the Penguin Atlas for Women in the World defines as unregistered or unstructured.[1] Non-agricultural work can also be informal. According to Martha Chen, informal labour makes up 48% of non-agricultural work in North Africa, 51% in Latin America, 65% in Asia, and 72% in Sub-Saharan Africa.[5]

Agriculture and gender

The agricultural sector of the economy has remained stable in recent years.[9] According to the Penguin Atlas of Women in the World, women make up 40% of the agricultural labour force in most parts of the world, while in developing countries they make up 67% of the agricultural workforce.[1] Joni Seager shows in her atlas that specific tasks within agricultural work are also gendered. For example, for the production of wheat in a village in Northwest China, men perform the ploughing, the planting, and the spraying, while women perform the weeding, the fertilising, the processing, and the storage.[1]

In terms of food production worldwide, the atlas shows that women produce 80% of the food in Sub-Saharan Africa, 50% in Asia, 45% in the Caribbean, 25% in North Africa and in the Middle East, and 25% in Latin America.[1] A majority of the work women do on the farm is considered housework and is therefore negligible in employment statistics.[1]

Paid and unpaid work are also closely related with formal and informal labour. Some informal work is unpaid, or paid under the table.[8] Unpaid work can be work that is done at home to sustain a family, like child care work, or actual habitual daily labour that is not monetarily rewarded, like working the fields.[1] Unpaid workers have zero earnings, and although their work is valuable, it is hard to estimate its true value. The controversial debate still stands. Men and women tend to work in different areas of the economy, regardless of whether their work is paid or unpaid. Women focus on the service sector, while men focus on the industrial sector.

Unpaid labour and gender

Women usually work fewer hours in income generating jobs than men do.[5] Often it is housework that is unpaid. Worldwide, women and girls are responsible for a great amount of household work.[1]

The Penguin Atlas of Women in the World, published in 2008, stated that in Madagascar, women spend 20 hours per week on housework, while men spend only two.[1] In Mexico, women spend 33 hours and men spend 5 hours.[1] In Mongolia the housework hours amount to 27 and 12 for women and men respectively.[1] In Spain, women spend 26 hours on housework and men spend 4 hours.[1] Only in the Netherlands do men spend 10% more time than women do on activities within the home or for the household.[1]

The Penguin Atlas of Women in the World also stated that in developing countries, women and girls spend a significant amount of time fetching water for the week, while men do not. For example, in Malawi women spend 6.3 hours per week fetching water, while men spend 43 minutes. Girls in Malawi spend 3.3 hours per week fetching water, and boys spend 1.1 hours.[1] Even if women and men both spend time on household work and other unpaid activities, this work is also gendered.[5]

Unearned pay and gender

In the United Kingdom in 2014, two-thirds of workers on long-term sick leave were women, despite women only constituting half of the workforce, even after excluding maternity leave.[10]

United States employment by sector

Below is a chart taken from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is a list of job classifications and the annual growth rate in each category.

Industry Sector Thousands of Jobs Change Percent Distribution Compound Annual Rate of Change
2006 2016 2026 2006–16 2016–26 2006 2016 2026 2006–16 2016–26
Total(1) 148,988.2 156,063.8 167,582.3 7,075.7 11,518.5 100.0 100.0 100.0 0.5 0.7
Nonagriculture wage and salary(2) 137,190.9 144,979.3 155,724.8 7,788.4 10,745.5 92.1 92.9 92.9 0.6 0.7
Goods-producing, excluding agriculture 22,466.7 19,685.2 19,904.2 -2,781.5 219.0 15.1 12.6 11.9 -1.3 0.1
Mining 619.7 626.1 716.9 6.4 90.8 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.1 1.4
Construction 7,691.2 6,711.0 7,575.7 -980.2 864.7 5.2 4.3 4.5 -1.4 1.2
Manufacturing 14,155.8 12,348.1 11,611.7 -1,807.7 -736.4 9.5 7.9 6.9 -1.4 -0.6
Services-providing excluding special industries 114,724.2 125,294.1 135,820.6 10,569.9 10,526.5 77.0 80.3 81.0 0.9 0.8
Utilities 548.5 556.2 559.6 7.7 3.4 0.4 0.4 0.3 0.1 0.1
Wholesale trade 5,904.6 5,867.0 6,012.8 -37.6 145.8 4.0 3.8 3.6 -0.1 0.2
Retail trade 15,353.2 15,820.4 16,232.7 467.2 412.3 10.3 10.1 9.7 0.3 0.3
Transportation and warehousing 4,469.6 4,989.1 5,353.4 519.5 364.3 3.0 3.2 3.2 1.1 0.7
Information 3,037.9 2,772.3 2,824.8 -265.6 52.5 2.0 1.8 1.7 -0.9 0.2
Financial activities 8,366.6 8,284.8 8,764.6 -81.8 479.8 5.6 5.3 5.2 -0.1 0.6
Professional and business services 17,566.2 20,135.6 22,295.3 2,569.4 2,159.7 11.8 12.9 13.3 1.4 1.0
Educational services 2,900.9 3,559.7 4,066.2 658.8 506.5 1.9 2.3 2.4 2.1 1.3
Health care and social assistance 15,253.3 19,056.3 23,054.6 3,803.0 3,998.3 10.2 12.2 13.8 2.3 1.9
Leisure and hospitality 13,109.7 15,620.4 16,939.4 2,510.7 1,319.0 8.8 10.0 10.1 1.8 0.8
Other services 6,240.5 6,409.4 6,761.4 168.9 352.0 4.2 4.1 4.0 0.3 0.5
Federal government 2,732.0 2,795.0 2,739.2 63.0 -55.8 1.8 1.8 1.6 0.2 -0.2
State and local government 19,241.2 19,427.9 20,216.6 186.7 788.7 12.9 12.4 12.1 0.1 0.4
Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting(3) 2,111.2 2,351.5 2,345.4 240.3 -6.1 1.4 1.5 1.4 1.1 0.0
Agriculture wage and salary 1,218.6 1,501.0 1,518.0 282.4 17.0 0.8 1.0 0.9 2.1 0.1
Agriculture self-employed 892.6 850.5 827.5 -42.1 -23.0 0.6 0.5 0.5 -0.5 -0.3
Nonagriculture self-employed 9,686.0 8,733.0 9,512.1 -953.0 779.1 6.5 5.6 5.7 -1.0 0.9[11]

Unemployment in the United States

Unemployment is defined as the number of able men and women of working age seeking employment. When unemployment percentages are shown it does not categorize all men and women who are out of work. It only accounts for the men and women who are actively seeking employment. To those who are no longer looking for work they are simply categorized as "out of the workforce". As of February 2018 the unemployment rate for the United States was 4.1%. The below is a list of unemployment rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics since 2000.

2000 4.0
2001 4.7
2002 5.8
2003 6.0
2004 5.5
2005 5.1
2006 4.6
2007 4.6
2008 5.8
2009 9.3
2010 9.6
2011 8.9
2012 8.1
2013 7.4
2014 6.2
2015 5.3
2016 4.9
2017 4.4[12]

As of 2010 in the United States, 123 million women age 16 years and over have worked in the U.S., 72 million, or 58.6 percent, were working or looking for work. Women are projected to account for 51% of the increase in total labor force growth between 2008 and 2018. As of 2010 Women make up 47% of the total U.S. labor force. 66 million women were employed in the U.S. 73% of employed women worked on full-time jobs, while the remainder 27% worked part time. The different career paths women work in were: 40.6% management, professional, and related occupations, 32% worked in sales and office occupations, 21.3% in service occupations, 5.2% in production, transportation, and material moving occupations, and 0.9% in natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations. The largest percentage of employed Asian 46.1%, white 40.6%, and black women 33.8%. Hispanic women showed their strongest attachment to service occupations at 33.2%. The unemployment rate for women was 8.6%. Among female race/ethnic groups, Asian women continue to have the lowest unemployment rate of 7.5%. For white women, it was 7.7%, Hispanic women 12.3%, and black women, 13.8 percent.[13]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Seager, Joni. 2008. The Penguin Atlas of Women in the World. 4th ed. New York: Penguin Books. Part 5
  2. ^ Informal sector
  3. ^ Larsson, Allan. "Empowerment of the Poor in Informal Employment." Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor (Jan. 2006): 1–10. Print
  4. ^ Seager, Joni. 2008. The Penguin Atlas of Women in the World. 4th ed. New York: Penguin Books. Part 5.
  5. ^ a b c d e Chen, Martha, Joann Vanek, Francie Lund, James Heintz with Renana Jhabvala, and Christine Bonner. 2005. "Employment, Gender, and Poverty," in Progress of the World's Women, pp. 36–57. New York: United Nations Development Fund for Women
  6. ^ a b c Chen, Martha Alter. "Women in the Informal Sector: A Global Picture, The Global Movement." World Bank: 1–10. World Bank Info. Web. 5 Apr. 2011.etools/docs/library/76309/dc2002/proceedings/pdfpaper/module6mc.pdf |title=Archived copy |accessdate=2015-03-24 |deadurl=no |archiveurl= |archivedate=2014-11-13 |df= }}
  7. ^ Charmes, Jacques. "Informal Sector, Poverty and Gender: A Review of Empirical Evidence." World Development Report (Feb. 2000): 1–9. Centre of Economics and Ethics. Web. 5 Apr. 2011. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2010-12-25. Retrieved 2015-03-24.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link).
  8. ^ a b Chen, Martha, Joann Vanek, Francie Lund, James Heintz with Renana Jhabvala, and Christine Bonner. 2005. "Employment, Gender, and Poverty," in Progress of the World's Women, pp. 36–57. New York: United Nations Development Fund for Women.
  9. ^ "Employment in agriculture (% of total employment) (modeled ILO estimate) - Data". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  10. ^ Watts, Joseph (11 February 2014). "Women make up two thirds of workers on long-term sick leave". London Evening Standard. p. 10.
  11. ^ "Employment by major industry sector". Archived from the original on 2018-04-06. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  12. ^ "Bureau of Labor Statistics Data". Archived from the original on 2018-03-24. Retrieved 2018-04-06.
  13. ^ "Women's Bureau (WB) - Quick Facts on Women in the Labor Force in 2010". US Department of Labor. Archived from the original on 2018-04-09. Retrieved 2018-04-05. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.

External links

Allied health professions

Allied health professions are health care professions distinct from nursing, medicine, and pharmacy. They work in health care teams to make the health care system function by providing a range of diagnostic, technical, therapeutic and direct patient care and support services that are critical to the other health professionals they work with and the patients they serve.

Contingent work

Contingent work or casual work is an employment relationship with limited job security, payment on a piece work basis, typically part time (typically with variable hours) that is considered non-permanent. Contingent work is usually not considered to be a career or part of a career.

Contingent workers are also often called consultants, freelancers, independent contractors, independent professionals, temporary contract workers or temps. One of the features of contingent work is that it usually offers little or no opportunity for career development.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the nontraditional workforce includes "multiple job holders, contingent and part-time workers, and people in alternative work arrangements". These workers currently represent a substantial portion of the US workforce, and "nearly four out of five employers, in establishments of all sizes and industries, use some form of nontraditional staffing". "People in alternative work arrangements" includes independent contractors, employees of contract companies, workers who are on call, and temporary workers.

Dislocated worker funding

Dislocated worker funding is typically used to help workers in events of mass employment loss. In the United States several grants have been established by the Secretary of Labor known officially as National Dislocated Worker Grants. The grants provide resources for states or other applicants to mitigate job losses caused by large, unexpected layoffs. The grants were established in 2014 by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

East Bay Green Corridor

The East Bay Green Corridor is a regional partnership working toward promoting the San Francisco East Bay as a global center of the emerging green economy. The members are thirteen East Bay cities, schools and research institutions. The partnership's stated goals are to attract and retain green businesses, promote research and technology transfer, strengthen green workforce development programs, and coordinate a regional effort to secure federal funding. West Berkeley activists have criticized the City of Berkeley's planned implementation of the corridor, over concerns that zoning regulations may be relaxed for the benefit of developers and large corporations, and could negatively impact the city's light manufacturing district.

Generation X

Generation X or Gen X is the demographic cohort following the baby boomers and preceding the Millennials. Demographers and researchers typically use birth years ranging from the early-to-mid 1960s to the early 1980s.

Generation Xers were children during a time of shifting societal values and as children were sometimes called the "latchkey generation", due to reduced adult supervision as children compared to previous generations, a result of increasing divorce rates and increased maternal participation in the workforce, prior to widespread availability of childcare options outside the home. As adolescents and young adults, they were dubbed the "MTV Generation" (a reference to the music video channel). In the 1990s they were sometimes characterized as slackers, cynical and disaffected. Some of the cultural influences on Gen X youth were the musical genres of grunge and hip hop music, and indie films. In midlife, research describes them as active, happy, and achieving a work–life balance. The cohort has been credited with entrepreneurial tendencies.

Global workforce

Global workforce refers to the international labor pool of workers, including those employed by multinational companies and connected through a global system of networking and production, immigrant workers, transient migrant workers, telecommuting workers, those in export-oriented employment, contingent work or other precarious employment. As of 2012, the global labor pool consisted of approximately 3 billion workers, around 200 million unemployed.


A layoff is the temporary suspension or permanent termination of employment of an employee or, more commonly, a group of employees (collective layoff) for business reasons, such as personnel management or downsizing an organization. Originally, layoff referred exclusively to a temporary interruption in work, or employment but this has evolved to a permanent elimination of a position in both British and US English, requiring the addition of "temporary" to specify the original meaning of the word. A layoff is not to be confused with wrongful termination. Laid off workers or displaced workers are workers who have lost or left their jobs because their employer has closed or moved, there was insufficient work for them to do, or their position or shift was abolished (Borbely, 2011). Downsizing in a company is defined to involve the reduction of employees in a workforce. Downsizing in companies became a popular practice in the 1980s and early 1990s as it was seen as a way to deliver better shareholder value as it helps to reduce the costs of employers (downsizing, 2015). Indeed, recent research on downsizing in the U.S., UK, and Japan suggests that downsizing is being regarded by management as one of the preferred routes to help declining organizations, cutting unnecessary costs, and improve organizational performance. Usually a layoff occurs as a cost cutting measure.

Minister of Employment, Workforce, and Labour

The Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, previously the Minister of Labour (French: Ministre du Travail), is the minister of the Crown in the Canadian Cabinet who is responsible for setting national labour standards and federal labour dispute mechanisms. Most of the responsibility for labour belongs with the provinces; however, the federal government is responsible for labour issues in industries under its jurisdiction.

New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development is a governmental agency of the U.S. state of New Jersey. The New Jersey Civil Service Commission is independent body within the New Jersey state government under the auspices of the Department.

Initially constituted in the late-1940s, pursuant to P.L. 1948, c.446, as the Department of Labor and Industry, the department is one of 16 executive branch departments in New Jersey state government. Governor Jim McGreevey's enactment of P.L. 2004, c.39 in June 2004 changed the name of the department from the New Jersey "Department of Labor" to the New Jersey "Department of Labor and Workforce Development." In addition to the name change, the statutory revisions consolidated and reorganized the state's workforce system.

Performance management

Performance management (PM) is a set of activities that ensure goals are met in an effective and efficient manner. Performance management can focus on the performance of an organization, a department, an employee, or the processes in place to manage particular tasks. Performance management standards are generally organized and disseminated by senior leadership at an organization, and by task owners.

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), previously Science, Math, Engineering and Technology (SMET), is a term used to group together these academic disciplines. This term is typically used when addressing education policy and curriculum choices in schools to improve competitiveness in science and technology development. It has implications for workforce development, national security concerns and immigration policy. The science in STEM typically refers to two out of the three major branches of science: natural sciences, including biology, physics, and chemistry, and formal sciences, of which mathematics is an example, along with logic and statistics; the third major branch of science, social sciences, including psychology, sociology, and political science, are categorized separately from the other two branches of science, and are instead grouped together with humanities and arts to form another counterpart acronym named HASS - Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. In the United States education system, in elementary, middle, and high schools, the term science refers primarily to the natural sciences, with mathematics being a standalone subject, and the social sciences are combined with the humanities under the umbrella term social studies.

The acronym came into common use shortly after an interagency meeting on science education held at the US National Science Foundation chaired by the then NSF director Rita Colwell.

A director from the Office of Science division of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scieg NSF institute the change. However, the acronym STEM predates NSF and likely traces its origin to Charles Vela, the founder and director of the Center for the Advancement of Hispanics in Science and Engineering Education (CAHSEE). In the early 1990s, CAHSEE started a summer program for talented under-represented students in the Washington, DC area called the STEM Institute. Based on the program's recognized success and his expertise in STEM education, Charles Vela was asked to serve on numerous NSF and Congressional panels in science, mathematics and engineering education; it is through this manner that NSF was first introduced to the acronym STEM. One of the first NSF projects to use the acronym was STEMTEC, the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Teacher Education Collaborative at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, which was founded in 1998.

Southern Illinois University

Southern Illinois University is a state university system based in Carbondale, Illinois, United States, in the southern region of the state, with multiple campuses. Randy Dunn was formerly president of SIU.

United States House Committee on Education and Labor

The Committee on Education and Labor is a standing committee of the United States House of Representatives.

Vocational school

A vocational school, sometimes also called a trade school, career center, or vocational college, is a type of educational institution, which, depending on the country, may refer to secondary or post-secondary education designed to provide vocational education, or technical skills required to perform the tasks of a particular and specific job. In the case of secondary education, these schools differ from academic high schools which usually prepare students who aim to pursue tertiary education, rather than enter directly into the workforce. With regard to post-secondary education, vocational schools are traditionally distinguished from four-year colleges by their focus on job-specific training to students who are typically bound for one of the skilled trades, rather than providing academic training for students pursuing careers in a professional discipline. While many schools have largely adhered to this convention, the purely vocational focus of other trade schools began to shift in the 1990s "toward a broader preparation that develops the academic" as well as technical skills of their students.

Women in the workforce

Women in the workforce earning wages or salary are part of a modern phenomenon, one that developed at the same time as the growth of paid employment for men, but women have been challenged by inequality in the workforce. Until modern times, legal and cultural practices, combined with the inertia of longstanding religious and educational conventions, restricted women's entry and participation in the workforce. Economic dependency upon men, and consequently the poor socio-economic status of women, have had the same impact, particularly as occupations have become professionalized over the 19th and 20th centuries.

Women's lack of access to higher education had effectively excluded them from the practice of well-paid and high status occupations. Entry of women into the higher professions like law and medicine was delayed in most countries due to women being denied entry to universities and qualification for degrees; for example, Cambridge University only fully validated degrees for women late in 1947, and even then only after much opposition and acrimonious debate. Women were largely limited to low-paid and poor status occupations for most of the 19th and 20th centuries, or earned less pay than men for doing the same work. However, through the 20th century, the labor market shifted. Office work that does not require heavy labor expanded, and women increasingly acquired the higher education that led to better-compensated, longer-term careers rather than lower-skilled, shorter-term jobs.

The increasing rates of women contributing in the work force has led to a more equal disbursement of hours worked across the regions of the world. However, in western European countries the nature of women's employment participation remains markedly different from that of men.

Although access to paying occupations (the "workforce") has been and remains unequal in many occupations and places around the world, scholars sometimes distinguish between "work" and "paying work", including in their analysis a broader spectrum of labor such as uncompensated household work, childcare, eldercare, and family subsistence farming.

Workforce (comics)

The Workforce is a fictional semi-heroic-super-team, in DC Comics' Post-Zero-Hour-Legion-of-Super-Heroes, continuity. And was introduced in Legion of Super-Heroes#64 (January 1995).

Workforce (horse)

Workforce (foaled 2007) is a British Thoroughbred racehorse. In a career that lasted from September 2009 until October 2011, he ran nine times and won four races. In 2010 he won the 2010 Epsom Derby and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, ridden by Ryan Moore. He won once from four races in 2011 before being retired to stand as a breeding stallion in Japan.

Workforce productivity

Workforce productivity is the amount of goods and services that a group of workers produce in a given amount of time. It is one of several types of productivity that economists measure. Workforce productivity, often referred to as labor productivity, is a measure for an organization or company, a process, an industry, or a country.

Workforce productivity is to be distinguished from employee productivity which is a measure employed at individual level based on the assumption that the overall productivity can be broken down to increasingly smaller units until, ultimately, to the individual employee, in order be used for example for the purpose of allocating a benefit or sanction based on individual performance (see also: Vitality curve).

In 2002, the OECD defined it as "the ratio of a volume measure of output to a volume measure of input". Volume measures of output are normally gross domestic product (GDP) or gross value added (GVA), expressed at constant prices i.e. adjusted for inflation. The three most commonly used measures of input are:

hours worked, typically from the OECD Annual National Accounts database

workforce jobs; and

number of people in employment.

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