Changes in the size and composition of the jobless population in the United States, 1964–2000

Shasta Fichon Jones, University of Pennsylvania


This dissertation considers changes in the jobless population between 1964 and 2000, the importance of including them in labor force discussions, and how these persons differ from labor market participants. The jobless are here defined as persons who are not working and not looking for work and include the retired, disabled students, and homemakers. The results of the decomposition and multinomial regression analyses are consistent with other studies that look at changes in the labor force and report fewer homemakers, more retired persons, and more persons with disabilities. It also shows a convergence in labor force participation, particularly in employment, between males and females. For both males and females, the largest component contribution to changes in the growth rate of the jobless population is participation in non-labor force activities (schooling and exclusive engagement in housework) or existence in particular non-labor force states (retirement and disability) rather than changes in age composition over the period. Declining rates of involvement in these activities reduced overall joblessness for women, while increasing the rate of joblessness for males. Logistic regression analyses reveal differences between the jobless and persons in the labor force by gender and year. For both males and females, labor force members are significantly more likely to be older and more educated than the jobless with the exception of students. Labor force members also have a greater likelihood of being married and having a child in the household. The one obvious exception is female homemakers who are both more likely to be married and to have at least one child than labor force participants. The retired, disabled, and homemakers report lower household incomes than labor force members. Students, however, report essentially equivalent household incomes to participants, which reflect parental incomes. Labor force participants are less likely than the jobless to receive income from public assistance, but they have higher odds of income receipt from additional sources such as investments. The jobless are no more or less likely to rely on spousal income except for homemakers. Finally, the jobless rely more on public assistance, disability, and retirement benefits than labor force members.

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Recommended Citation

Jones, Shasta Fichon, "Changes in the size and composition of the jobless population in the United States, 1964–2000" (2004). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3125845.