So-called “prime age” workers, those 25 to 54, are working jobs at a higher rate than before the pandemic. But the picture gets more complex for older workers.
The growth was largely driven by working mothers. Flexible and remote jobs help, but the expiration of child care relief funds may hurt.
The participation rate, which includes people actively looking for jobs, rose in August for those 55 and older, women, teenagers and others.
Millions of women left the workforce early in the pandemic. The strong job market and flexible working conditions have brought many back.
The ratio covers people 25 to 54 years old. The strong participation means employers looking to hire may have a hard time finding workers.
Growth in the number of people looking for work means the unemployment rate is rising for the right reasons, one economist says.
But the share of the population in the job market is still about a percentage point below the level of February 2020.
"The Black workforce is the canary in the coal mine," said Howard University's Bill Spriggs. "They’re already suffering."
About 3.5 million more people were working or looking for work in May than a year earlier. Economists hope the number keeps rising.