RSWA » Latest Articles
06.23.2023 by Tracey Daigle

Do Americans Want to Work – Yes, Yes We Do!

We are all getting used to the new normal of waiting due to the limited supply of workers. If you have had any home improvement projects completed, had to schedule a doctor’s appointment, or just gone out to dinner, you have most likely had to wait. Businesses of all sizes are having trouble hiring and retaining workers. When looking at the multitude of help wanted signs out there, one of the judgements you hear being batted around is that Americans don’t want to work anymore. But the data doesn’t support that line of thought. The labor force participation rate for prime age workers, people 25 to 54, is now not only above pre-pandemic numbers but for the first time it is above pre-2008 numbers. In fact, if you look over the last 70 years, the labor participation factor for this group peaked in January of 1999 at 84.6% and for May of 2023 it sits at 84.4%. ( U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (

FAI 06.23. 1

So why are we short of workers if we are so close to the all-time high labor participation rate for prime-age workers? There are many contributing factors including the retirement of the baby boomers and the reduced rate of people under 25 in the work force. With both high school and college graduation rates increasing, fewer highschoolers are working and more people are going to college. Statista

FAI 06.23 3

And it’s really interesting what happens when you adjust for the size of the baby boomer’s generation. In the chart below, the black line is the unadjusted labor participation rate from 1950 to 2023 and the blue line shows what the participation rate would look like if all the generations were the same size. FRED Blog (

FAI 06.23 2

The question that has not been answered in all these charts is what can we do to solve the problem? When the labor supply is an issue there are a few ways to solve it, increase the labor supply by increasing the labor participation rate or the supply itself by increasing immigration. The other option is to increase efficiency so that fewer work hours are needed for the same amount of work to be completed. The immigration question is one that will have to be figured out, for many reasons, but unfortunately it will not happen anytime soon. As for efficiency – could AI be the answer to this? We will see.

Financial Planning/Investment Strategy Corner:              

Family Gifting: One of the recurring themes with our clients is family gifting. There are a few rules to follow if you are interested.

  • There is an annual gift tax exclusion limit which is adjusted for inflation. For 2023, the annual limit is $17k. Any individual can give any other individual $17k without any gift tax implications for either person. A couple can give $34k.
  • If your intent is to reduce your estate, the gifting can be done each year.
  • There is an unlimited gift tax exclusion for medical expenses and tuition payments if made directly to the provider.
  • You can front load a 529 account (college savings) by depositing 5 years of gifts all in the first year. You will not be able to give to the 529 account beneficiary for the next 5 years, but the account gets a jump on tax free growth. In 2023, an individual can front load a 529 account with $85K and a couple can deposit $170K.
  • If you give more than the annual exclusion amount, tax is not necessarily due, but you do use up a portion of your lifetime exclusion and a tax form will need to be filed.

If you have any questions about gifting, please reach out to your financial advisory team.

Quick Hits:

One Last Employment Note – Remote Work: During the pandemic remote work became necessary and it’s sticking with us. Many workers are back in the office, but some companies are hiring remote workers for its cost savings. By going outside the large cities or even outside the US, companies are able to save on labor costs. And it’s not just in the US. Europe and East Asia are doing it too. ( The No. 1 city to find a remote job(

Quote: I searched for a great, inspirational summer quote – but this one made me laugh out loud. I hope it does the same for you 😊

FAI 06.23 4

Thank you for reading RSWA Financial Advisor Insights! We welcome feedback and please forward this to a friend! Be well, take care, and stay safe!


We're sharing our market and economic insights & helping you with retirement!

Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter and receive our Quickstart Guide to Retirement Planning!