Labor force is defined as the total number of the employed, the unemployed and the self-employed, that is, those who are working and those who are looking for work. Labor force can also be defined as the number of people allowed by law to work and who are making themselves available for work.
The labor force falls into the age bracket of 16-65 years. It varies greatly in response to variations in the demand for labor. For instance, when there is a rise in demand for labor and a corresponding rise in earnings (wages and salaries), it means that there will be increase in the population of labor force. Hence, many people are willing to work. Working population varies from one country to another. When earnings are attractive, more people would enter the labor force.
Factors that affect the size of labor force
- The Number of Working Hours: The number of working hours by the number of hours allocated to leisure also determines the size of labor force in any country
- The Size of a Country’s Population: The size of a country will determine the amount of labor available to the country, that is, devoted to production. The larger the population, the higher the amount of labor that would be available in the labor force. If the population is small, the amount of labor the country will produce will be very low
- Mandatory Age of Retirement: The size of labor force is a function of the mandatory retirement age. For instance, if government rises the retirement age, the size of the labor would expand and if the retirement age is reduced, there will be reduction in the labor force.
- Total Number of Labor Force Willing to Work: There are people who fall within the production age bracket but are not willing to work because of poor wages or under-employment. This affects the size of labor force adversely
- School leaving age: The official school leaving age affects the labor force either positively or negatively
- The Number of Women Working: If many women decide to join the labor force, there will be an increase in the number of labor available to the country
- The Number of those retiring before Retirement Age: This will also go a long way to reduce the size of the labor force
- The Number of Disabled and sick persons of working age: if the number of sick and disabled people under the production age bracket is high, the size of the labor force will be low and vice versa
- Total Number of Labor force willing to work: There are people who fall within the production age bracket but are not willing to work probably because of poor wages or under-employment. This situation affects the size of labor force adversely.
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