The Growth in America's Workforce
A hot US job market is coaxing people in from the sidelines
A surprisingly strong burst of job growth over the past year has led many economists to wonder: Where are all the workers coming from?
The pace of hiring in 2018 was the most robust in three years, and for a surprising reason: Many more people have decided to look for work than experts had expected. The influx of those job seekers, if sustained, could help extend an economic expansion that is already the second-longest on record.
The growth in America’s workforce — made up of people either working or looking for work — has helped reverse an alarming consequence of the recession: The exit of millions of Americans from the job market.
Some suffered from disabilities. Others enrolled in school or stayed home to raise children. Some just felt discouraged by their job prospects. Other factors that have held some people back from seeking work have included the high cost of child care and a lack of paid leave.
Child care costs delayed the return of Valarie Regas of Atlanta to the job market after she gave birth to her second child in 2012. Regas wanted to go back, but most of the jobs she found didn’t pay enough to cover child care. So she remained mostly out of the job market for five more years.
After completing Georgia Tech's Coding Boot Camp, Regas was hired last year by a division of the European aerospace giant Airbus. The company initially wanted someone with more experience, she said. But after she pitched them on her enthusiasm and willingness to learn, she was hired as a software programmer.
“Even with the exorbitant cost of child care, I am now bringing home real money,” said Regas.
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