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July 1984, Vol. 107, No. 7
Working for Uncle Sama look
at members of the Armed Forces
Individuals seeking work may consider the military to be an attractive alternative to a civilian jobespecially for those lacking employment experience, facing a tight labor market, looking for a lifetime career, or having strong patriotic feelings. More than 2 million men and women are in the Armed Forces. This article compares the demographic and occupational characteristics of the 1.7 million stationed in the United States with those of civilian workers.1
It is especially appropriate to examine data on military personnel, because at the beginning of 1983, the Bureau of Labor Statistics began publishing an unemployment rate which includes the resident Armed Forces in the labor force count. Other statistical series including the resident Armed Forces, such as labor force participation rates, the number of employed, and employment-population ratios, also became available at that time. Calculations have been made for each of these series back to 1950.2
These statistical series were made available in accordance with the recommendations of the National Commission on Employment and Unemployment Statistics, which was established in 1978 to study the Nation's labor force data system with regard to its accuracy and relevance to current conditions. The Commission determined that, with the change to a volunteer system in 1973, military employment was not "substantively different" from civilian employment and thus concluded that military personnel should be counted in national employment and labor force totals.3 Because the civilian labor force includes only persons residing in the United States, the Armed Forces count is similarly restricted.
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1 Because 1982 data on the Armed Forces were tabulated specifically for this article by the Department of Defense, civilian data obtained from the Current Population Survey also refer to 1982. The Current Population Survey (CPS) is a sample survey of about 60,000 households conducted monthly by the Bureau of the Census for the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
2 It should be noted that those series exist only for three groups; men age 16 and over, women age 16 and over, and both sexes combined.
3 See Counting the Labor Force (Washington, National Commission on Employment and Unemployment Statistics, Labor Day 1979), pp. 49-51.
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