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‘Labor Force Participation Rate’ & It’s Impact On The Forex Market

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What is the Labor Force Participation Rate?

Labor force participation rate can be defined as the group of the population who are between the age of 16 and 64 in the economy that is currently employed or unemployed (seeking employment). The other set of the population, including the ones who are still undergoing studies, people who are above the age of 64, and the housewives, do not fall into the labor force participation rate. As far as the formula for this concerned, it is the sum of all the employed people and the people seeking employment divided by the total noninstitutionalized, civilian working-age population*.

LFPR = Labor Force / Civilian Non-Institutionalized Population

Where Labor Force = Employed + Unemployed

Working-age population – this is the population of people in an area that is considered to be capable of working in a predetermined age range criterion.

More about Labor Force Participation Rate

The LFPR is a measure to evaluate the working-age population in an economy. This working-age population is a dataset of only those people who are between the age of 16-64.

Since the LFPR involves the calculation of the number of employed and unemployed people, this indicator is closely related to the unemployment rate. The LFPR is a vital metric when the economy is under recession or is slowing down. This is when the people get their eye caught into the unemployment data.

When the market is under recession, the labor force participation rate tends to go down. The reason to account for it is simple. At the time of recession, the economic activity is feeble, which results in fewer jobs across the nation. This, in turn, discourages the people from focusing on their employment and hence leads to a lowering of the participation rate. In addition, the participation rate is an important factor in understanding the unemployment rate.

The group of people who are not interested in working or are in some sort of insignificant type of job is not included in the participation rate. But, when it comes to the understanding of the unemployment rate in detail, we do take the participation rate into account. A population that has a majority of them who are aging, it can have a negative impact on the economy of any country. And this is when the labor participation rate comes into play. If the value is on the higher side, this is a good sign for the economy. But, for smaller values, the countries need to be cautious of their economies. This is the reason, both participation rate, as well as the unemployment rate, must be looked carefully into and simultaneously to get a clear understanding of the overall employment status in the economy.

What do the trends have to say?

Consider the above chart representing the labor force participating rate in the U.S. for two over two decades from 2000 to the present year. Defining as per the chart, the labor force participation rate is the population of people who are able to work as a percentage of the total population.

Going behind the specified period, the rate increased from 1960 to 2000, as women came into the picture of the workforce. At the beginning of 2000, the rate peaked at 67.3 percent. But, due to the recession that happened the very next year, the rate dropped to 65.9 percent by April 2014. Similarly, the recession in 2008, lowered the labor force participation rate even more to 62.3 percent by October 2015. In the coming years, though there wasn’t any significant financial crisis, the rate had risen only to 62.9 percent.

The primary implication to drop could be the falling of the supply of workers. So now, fewer works should manage to negotiate for higher wages. But things turned out to be different. The income inequality increased, and as a result, the average income workers were hit hard. And understandably, they could not put up a competition with robots. Moreover, businesses replaced capital equipment instead of hiring more labor as they found it be cost-effective.

The consistent falling rates of the labor force participation can be boiled to the four points listed below:

  • An aging population
  • Long-term unemployment, leading to structural unemployment
  • Increased opioid dependency
  • Sickness to the extent that they cannot work

How the ‘Labor Force Participation Rate’ Impacts the Economy?

The countries whose population has a skilled and mobile labor force that can adapt to the changing business needs, tend to have a good labor force and stable participation rate.

Investment in human capital plays a role in the valuation of the LFPR. When countries invest more in human capital and stand better than the crowd (rest of the countries), their economy tends to stay above the average mark.

Labor mobility acts as a great add-on to the labor force as well as the economy. The nations with mobile workers have the skill set to negotiate workers, change employers, and start new businesses. The U.S. is one such example of the same. They are much better than other developed countries when it comes to moving to find a job.

Impact of Labor Force Participation Rate on the Currency

The labor force participation rate determines the population in an economy who are employed and unemployed in a certain predefined age range. And this goes hand in hand with the unemployment rate of an economy. Hence, we can conclude that the impact of the currency from LFPR correlates with the unemployment rate.

A rise in the labor force participation rate implies an increase in the participation rate. And this is a positive sign for the economy of a country. Thus, an increase in the participation rate can lead to an appreciation in the value of a currency.

Contrarily, a downfall in the labor force participation rate implies that the labor force is dropped due to the bad performance of an economy. This typically happens during recession times. Therefore, to sum it up, a decline in the LFPR could indicate a negative effect on the currency.

Reliable Sources for Statistics on Labor Force Participation Rate

Firstly, the frequency of release of reports on the Labor Force Participation Rate is 30 days. All the data is expressed as a percent.

Below is a list of links through which one can access the participation rate data for different countries. The information that can be retrieved from the sources are as follows:

  • Actual, previous, highest, and lowest data
  • Graphical statistics for a period of more than 25 years
  • Forecast

USD | GBPEUR

For the rest of the countries, you may click the link here to access the reports.

Impact of Labor Force Participation Rate Announcement on the Price Charts

Now that we’ve understood pretty much on the theoretical concepts of Labor Force Participation Rate, let’s get a little technical and see how the reports of this economic indicator affect the prices of the currency. Basically, we will be seeing the movement in the charts before the release of the news and then observe its effects after the release of the news.

As already mentioned, this data is released on a monthly basis for most of the countries. For our discussion, we shall be considering the LFPR of the United States. That is, we will be analyzing how the LFPR affects rates of the U.S. Dollar.

Consider the below report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Labor Force Participation Rate in the United States has remained unchanged at 63.4 percent in February 2020. Note that, though the data is released in March, in reality, it is the reports for the month of February.

Now that we know the actual value is the same as the previous data, as well as the forecasted data, let us examine how it has affected the prices of the U.S. Dollar.

EUR/USD | Before the Announcement (March 6, 2020)

Consider the EUR/USD chart on the 15min timeframe. At this point in time, we can see that the market is in an uptrend and is presently moving sideways. Let’s see how the price is affected when the news comes out the next candle.

EUR/USD | After the Announcement (March 6, 2020)

Below is the same chart, but after the announcement of the news. The news candle is clearly represented in the chart as well.

We can see that after the news was released, the candlestick left a small wick on the top and a long wick on the bottom and closed a few pips below the open price. We can infer that the news didn’t much create a drastic move in the market. This is because the actual rate was the same as the previous rate. However, the volatility of the market showed an increase. The ATR indicator indicated that the current market volatility was ten pips. But, the volatility after the news release jumped to 27 pips. The volume too increased after the release of the news, which can be seen at the bottom of the chart.

This also means that the news could not really affect the current trend of the market. So, traders can still look out to buy entries after the release of the news. For instance, the wick in the bottom could be interpreted as the strength of the buyers in the market.

GBP/USD | Before the Announcement (March 6, 2020)

Below is the chart of GBP/USD on the 15min timeframe. The market is in an uptrend and currently is at the support (black line). We need to see if the news will respect the support or will break through it.

GBP/USD | After the Announcement (March 6, 2020)

Below is the same chart of GBP/USD after the announcement of the news. We can see that the news was positive for the USD. However, the USD wasn’t strong enough to break below the support. And this was because the actual value was the same as the previous value.

Coming to the volatility, the average volatility was ten pips, and when the news came out, the volatility increased 16 pips, which was decently above the average value. There was a slight increase in the volume as well.

As far as trading this pair is concerned, we can prepare to go long when a doji-like candle was formed at the support area.

Conclusion

Labor Force Participation rate is that economic indicator that measures the workforce of a country by considering a specific age group. As mentioned, the LFPR and the unemployment rate are closely related to each other. That is, for assessing the unemployment rate, having an idea about the participation rate is quite vital. The labor force participation rate has a good weightage in the valuation of the economy of a nation. It has its effects on currencies as well. So, this indicator turns to be handy for economists as well as traders and investors.

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