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Persons in the Labor Force, 1840–2012

See table below to learn about the U.S. labor force, its total numbers and what percent of working-age population it comprises.

  Labor force1
Year Number
(thousands)
Percent of
working-age population
1840 5,420 46.6%
1850 7,697 46.8
1860 10,533 47.0
1870 12,925 45.8
1880 17,392 47.3
1890 23,318 49.2
1900 29,073 50.2
1910 37,371 52.2
1920 42,434 51.3
1930 48,830 49.5
1940 55,640 55.7
1945 53,860 57.2
1950 62,208 59.2
19552 65,023 59.3
1960 69,628 59.4
19652 74,455 58.9
1970 82,771 60.4%
19752 93,774 61.2
19802 106,940 63.8
1985 115,461 64.8
19902 125,840 66.5
19952 132,304 66.6
1996 133,943 66.8
19972 136,297 67.1
19982 137,673 67.1
19992 139,368 67.1
20002 142,583 67.1
2001 143,734 66.8
2002 144,863 66.6
20032 146,510 66.2
20042 147,401 66.0
20052 149,320 66.0
20062 151,370 66.4
20072 153,866 66.0
20082 154,287 66.0
2012 154,975 63.7
1. For 1840 to 1930, the data relate to the population and gainful workers at age 10 and over; for 1940 to 1945, the data relate to the population and labor force at age 14 and over; for 1950 onward, the data relate to the population and labor force at age 16 and over.
2. Not strictly comparable with data for prior years.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Web: data.bls.gov .

Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

Farm and Nonfarm Labor Force, 1940–2005 Labor and Employment U.S. Minimum Wage

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