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July 1982, Vol. 105, No. 7
How accurate were projections
of the 1980 labor force?
Howard N Fullerton
The final step in the projection process is evaluation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has always assessed each of its labor force projections, but only the evaluation of the 1975 estimates has been published. The 1970 projections were evaluated by Marc Rosenblum of the City University of New York.1 Both evaluations concluded that the BLS had underestimated the number of persons in the labor force, with too many men and too few women. Rosenblum also concluded that the BLS estimate of the 1975 labor force would be too low, based on a comparison with projections by Alfred Tella and Thomas F. Dernberg and others.2 Bureau of Labor Statistics economist Paul Ryscavage confirmed the underestimation of the BLS projections for the 1975 labor force, finding that an earlier projection, made when the program was still in the Bureau of the Census, was more accurate. He also suggested that the projections for 1980 and 1985 would be too low, primarily because of underestimation of female labor force growth. All four of the BLS projections of the 1980 labor force demonstrated the same pattern of lower than actual growth; generally the male labor force was too high and the female labor force was always too low.3
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1 Marc Rosenblum, "On the accuracy of labor force projections," Monthly Labor Review, October 1972, p. 22-29.
2 Alfred Tella, "Labor Force Sensitivity to Employment by Age, Sex," Industrial Relations, February 1965; and Thomas F. Dernberg, Kenneth Strand, and Judith Dukler, "A Parametric Approach to Labor Force Projection," Industrial Relations, October 1966.
3 Labor force projections are used in preparing employment, output, and occupational projections. The Bureau's occupational projections for 1980 are evaluated by Max L. Carey and Kevin Kasunic, in "Evaluating the 1980 projection of occupational employment," Monthly Labor Review, this issue, pp. 22-30.
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