Baby Boomer Employment Across Time - Saturday, July 11

With the release of the May employment report, let's review the status of the 20th century Baby Boom, which was one of the most powerful demographic events in the history of the United States. The chart below illustrates the 19-year surge in births following World War II that stretched from 1946 through 1964.

Baby Boom Births


The boom in births is all the more remarkable when we view the births-to-population ratio. The ratio had dropped dramatically during the Great Depression, which made the post-war boom in births even more dramatic. The regression drawn through the series helps us better appreciate the magnitude of the boom and the subsequent drop in births during the "stagflation" era of the seventies and early 1980s.

Baby Boom Birth-to-Population Ratio


Boomers in the Workplace

The series of charts below show seven age cohorts of the employed population from 1948 to the present. We've used the non-seasonally adjusted 12-month moving averages, hence the start date of 1949. We've highlighted the Boomer years for each cohort with dotted lines.

Note that the bottom of the vertical axis is fixed at zero on all charts. The top is fixed at 35% for the three prime work age cohorts 25-54. The younger and older cohort axes have been optimized for observation of the trends.

Our snapshot for the teenage years, ages 16-19, was occupied by the Boomers from 1962 through 1983. The trend peaked in 1974 at 8.6%.

Ages 16-19


Ages 20-24, for many the college years, was the Boomer stronghold from 1966 through 1988. This cohort was hovering just below 11% of the employed population in 1965. The Boomer trend peaked in 1979 at 14.5%.

Ages 20-24


Ages 25-34, was the Boomer stronghold from 1971 through 1998. During the 11-month recession that began in December 1969, the employment percent for this cohort actually grew. It was around 20.8% of the employed when the Boomers began turning 25 and the growth trend peaked in 1987 at 29.4%.

Ages 25-34


Ages 35-44 were Boomers from 1981 through 2008. This cohort accounted for 19.7% of the employed when the Boomers began turning 35 and peaked in 1997 at 27.7%.

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