How American Workers' Lives Changed: Stats Tell The Story

BLS labor data 2011

By Debra Auerbach

Every year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases data on employment and unemployment from the prior calendar year. "Work Experience of the Population - 2011" provides a snapshot of U.S. work activity in 2011 and how the information compares to data from previous years. Below are highlights from the report.

More Americans are working full time, year round
While the proportion of the population who worked at some time during the year slightly decreased from 63.7 percent in 2010 to 63.3 percent in 2011, more Americans held full-time, year-round jobs in 2011 (65.8 percent) than in 2010 (64.7 percent).

Of the total population who worked at some point during 2011 (whether full time, part time or year round):
  • 78.6 percent of those workers usually held full-time jobs (35 hours or more per week), up from 78.2 percent in 2010.
  • 21.4 percent worked part time (1 to 34 hours per week), down from 21.8 percent the year prior.
  • 77 percent were employed year round (working 50 to 52 weeks, either full or part time), an increase from 75.9 percent in 2010.

More:Weekly Jobless Claims Rise, But Job Growth Remains Steady

Unemployment is discreasing
The study's data on unemployment were also encouraging. Of the 159.7 million people who worked or looked for work at some point in 2011, 1.5 million fewer experienced some unemployment during the year than in 2010.

Also, the number of Americans who looked for a job in 2011 but never found work declined by 348,000 over the year to 6.2 million. The amount of time it took to find a new job was about 20 weeks, the same number as in 2009 and 2010.

What about the 'mancession'?
Employment patterns for men were similar to those of total employment from 2010 to 2011. The proportion of men who worked during the year was 68.8 percent, down from 69.3 percent in 2010. The proportion of women who worked at some point during 2011 was 58.1 percent, little changed from the prior year (58.5 percent).

The proportion of employed men working full time rose from 84.3 percent in 2010 to 84.8 percent in 2011, while the proportion of women changed little -- 71.5 percent in 2010 to 71.7 percent in 2011.

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