A look at U.S. employment in 2011

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2011 work experienceEvery year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases data on employment and unemployment from the prior calendar year. “Work Experience of the Population – 2011” provides a snapshot of U.S. work activity in 2011 and how the information compares to data from previous years. Below are highlights from the report.

More Americans working full time, year round
While the proportion of the population who worked at some time during the year slightly decreased from 63.7 percent in 2010 to 63.3 percent in 2011, more Americans held full-time, year-round jobs in 2011 (65.8 percent) than in 2010 (64.7 percent).

Of the total population who worked at some point during 2011 (whether full time, part time or year round):

  • 78.6 percent of those workers usually held full-time jobs (35 hours or more per week), up from 78.2 percent in 2010.
  • 21.4 percent worked part time (1 to 34 hours per week), down from 21.8 percent the year prior.
  • 77 percent were employed year round (working 50 to 52 weeks), an increase from 75.9 percent in 2010.

Unemployment trends
The study’s data on unemployment were also encouraging. Of the 159.7 million people who worked or looked for work at some point in 2011, 1.5 million fewer experienced some unemployment during the year than in 2010. Also, the number of Americans who looked for a job in 2011 but never found work declined by 348,000 over the year to 6.2 million.

Additional unemployment data:

  • Among those who experienced unemployment in 2011, the median number of weeks spent looking for work was 19.8, about unchanged from 2009 and 2010.
  • Of the 17.5 million Americans who worked during 2011 and also experienced unemployment, 1 in 5 had two or more joblessness spells, about the same as in the prior two years.

Male and female employment comparisons
Employment patterns for men were similar to those of total employment from 2010 to 2011, while women saw little change in employment over the year.

  • Overall employment: The proportion of men who worked during the year was 68.8 percent, down from 69.3 percent in 2010. The proportion of women who worked at some point during 2011 was 58.1 percent, little changed from the prior year (58.5 percent).
  • Year-round employment: The share of men employed year round rose by 1.7 percentage points to 78.4 percent in 2011. The percentage of women working year round was little changed at 75.5 percent.
  • Full-time employment: The proportion of employed men working full time rose from 84.3 percent in 2010 to 84.8 percent in 2011, while the proportion of women changed little — 71.5 percent in 2010 to 71.7 percent in 2011.

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