Economists at the Federal Reserve ran a study to isolate how much the shrinking labor force has to do with demographic changes — fewer high school and college students working part-time jobs, and Baby Boomers reaching retirement age — and how much is the economy.
They looked at how bad job losses were in each state, and how each state’s labor force composition changed, in the recessions in the 80s, 90s and this last Great Recession. It also looked at how long it took for a rebound as job growth helped states rebuild their job bases.
According to the chart that explains at what happened from January 2008 through February 2010, Connecticut is an outlier. Its job losses were particularly bad — only 14 states had a greater percentage loss — but its labor participation grew during the period. In fact, only six states had growth in their labor forces in those years, and four of them had smaller job losses than Connecticut. (Nevada, which had far more dramatic job losses, also had a growing labor force.