Labor Force Dynamics in the Great Recession and its Aftermath: Implications for Older Workers

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Unlike prime-age Americans, who have experienced declines in employment and labor force participation since the onset of the Great Recession, Americans past 60 have seen their employment and labor force participation rates increase. In order to understand the contrasting labor force developments among the old, on the one hand, and the prime-aged, on the other, this paper develops and analyzes a new data file containing information on monthly labor force changes of adults interviewed in the Current Population Survey (CPS). The paper documents notable differences among age groups with respect to the changes in labor force transition rates that have occurred over the past two decades. What is crucial for understanding the surprising strength of old-age labor force participation and employment are changes in labor force transition probabilities within and across age groups.