Long-Term Trends in Employment by Age Group
The labor force participation rate (LFPR) is a simple computation: You take the civilian labor force (people aged 16 and over employed or seeking employment) and divide it by the civilian non-institutional population (those 16 and over not in the military and or committed to an institution). As of January, the labor force participation rate is at 62.5%, unchanged from the previous month.
The first chart below splits up the LFPR since 1948 in two ways: by age and by gender. For the former, we have the 25-64 age cohorts to represent what we traditionally think of as the "productive" (pre-retirement age) workforce. The BLS has data for ages 16 and over, but the historical trend toward college attendance has been quite dramatic over this timeframe. So let's use age 25 as the lower boundary to reduce the college-years skew.
Note the squiggly lines for the productive years and jumbled dots for the older cohorts. These result from the use of non-seasonally adjusted data. The BLS does have seasonally adjusted data for many cohorts, but not the older ones, so the chart uses the non-adjusted numbers for consistency.