Between 1990 and the 2007–2009 recession, the rate of labor force participation—the percentage of noninstitutionalized people who have jobs or are available for work and are seeking jobs—was relatively stable for individuals ages 25 to 54. People of those ages are typically finished with schooling but not yet near retirement age and as a group have the highest participation rate in the labor force.
Between the end of the recession and 2015, however, the rate fell by 2 percentage points, from 83 percent to 81 percent. Although the rate inched up slightly in both 2016 and 2017, it is likely to stay about the same between 2018 and 2027, CBO estimates. Most of the changes since 1990 in the labor force participation rate have been related to demographic factors, economic conditions, and the government’s fiscal policies.