Tennessee Business and Economic Outlook, Spring 2016

Author: Matthew N. Murray, Lawrence M. Kessler

Publication Date: May 1, 2016

Many attribute falling labor force participation rates to the effects of the Great Recession. However, the analysis presented here suggests that the seeds of falling labor force participation rates were sown much further back in history. The malelabor force participation rate, in particular, has been in long-term decline, while the participation rate of women began to decline in the early 2000s. The Great Recession certainly aggravated these trends, but the recession was not the lone culprit.The labor force participation rate is likely to show some near-term improvement as tighter labor market conditions draw discouraged workers back into the job hunt. But at some point the long-term trends affecting participation rates will reassertthemselves. The preparation of this report was financed in part by the following agencies: the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, the Tennessee Department of Revenue, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, and the Appalachian Regional Commission.