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Baby Boomers’ Impact on Participation Rate Big, Expected

Aging baby boomers, those Americans born between 1946 and 1964, account for approximately half of the drop in the labor force participation rate since 2007, according to a report released Thursday from the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Baby boomers' retiring accounts for about 1.6 percentage points of the fall.

While older adults participate more in the labor market now more than previous generations, both men and women decrease their participation by at least 40 percentage points in the decade leading up to age 65, the report showed.

The participation rate started rising in the early 60s as women entered the labor force and later as baby boomers hit their prime working ages, reached a peak of 67 percent in 2000 and since then has generally fallen.

The residual effects that the other declines in participation can't account for are the decline for prime-age working men - those 25 to 54 - since the 1950s and for prime-age working women since the 1990s.

As more people start filling open job positions, the unemployment rate declines and participation rises - therefore removing so-called "slack" in the labor market - the economy will reach full employment.

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