Abstract and Keywords
This chapter discusses the historical evolution of the labor force and wages in the United States from 1800 to the present. Standard data sources for tracing this evolution, such as the decennial census and the Current Population Survey, are discussed. Basic statistics on the size of the labor force (total number of workers and in proportion to the population), its demographic composition (gender and age), the distribution of occupations, hours worked, unemployment rates, and wages are presented and interpreted. The shift from bound labor (indentured servitude and slavery) to free labor, the rise of unions, and government regulation of labor markets are examined. The chapter concludes with suggestions for further research.
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