Kathleen McGarry on U.S. Labor Force Participation

For the long term health of Social Security, it it important to make projections about future participation in the U.S. labor force. To understand this further, the Social Security Advisory Board appointed a Technical Panel of prominent labor economists that includes UCLA Professor, Kathleen McGarry.

The final report shows that the secular decrease in participation rates for men, and a similarly-sized increase for women. It also shows the reduction in participation that occurred during the great recession, accounting for changes in the age structure of the population.

Below is the official announcement.


Board Releases Final Report of the Technical Panel on Labor Force Projections


 To coincide with the publication of the 2017 Social Security Trustees Report, the Social Security Advisory Board is pleased to announce the availability of the Final Report of the Technical Panel on Labor Force Projections.


The Panel, comprised of five prominent labor economists commissioned by the Board in mid-2016, evaluated the assumptions and methods used by the Office of the Chief Actuary to project labor force participation rates–a key factor in the determination of revenues and expenditures of the Social Security programs. The Panel’s report includes several recommendations for how those projections could be improved.


The Trustees’ annual estimates are indispensable to understanding the financial well-being of the nation’s most important social insurance program. They serve as the basis for evaluating the financial effects of policy reforms. The Board believes that careful scrutiny by an independent panel of experts helps assure the public that the projections are based on the best insight and information available and on the unbiased work of dedicated professionals. This is the sixth panel sponsored by the Board.


Read the Final Report of the Panel and explore data and other material submitted to the Panel as well as a response to the Panel’s recommendation from the Office of the Chief Actuary.


Read the 2017 Trustees Report


The Technical Panel on Labor Force Participation was chaired by Robert A. Moffitt, Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Economics at Johns Hopkins University, and included Gary Burtless, John C. and Nancy D. Whitehead Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution; Chinhui Juhn, Henry Graham Professor of Economics at the University of Houston; Kevin M. Murphy, George J. Stigler Distinguished Service Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics and Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago; and Kathleen McGarry, Professor of Economics at UCLA.