Press Release: 12.665-256/21

Labour force projection: share of labour force in total population declines

Vienna, 2021-11-26 – According to the labour force projection of Statistics Austria, the labour force in Austria should remain relatively constant in the coming years. According to the trend variant, the demographic supply of the labour force, i.e. the sum of the self-employed and family workers, employees and the unemployed as well as military and civilian servants, will be only 0.6% lower in 2050 than in 2020 (4.58 million) and thus amount to 4.56 million. Relative to the total population, however, the share of the labour force will decrease from 51.4% in 2020 to 47.3% in 2050.

"The labour market is becoming increasingly older and more female. Rising labour force participation of women and people on the threshold of retirement age is responsible for this, counteracting the decline in the 15 to 64-year-old population. However, the ratio of the labour force to those of retirement age is changing considerably: Whereas in 1951 there were still four people in the labour force for every person of retirement age, today there are only three, and by 2030 there will only be two. This will put funding pressure on pay-as-you-go social security systems such as pensions and health care," explains Statistics Austria Director General Tobias Thomas.

Forecast variants range from 4.35 to 4.68 million labour force by 2050

If age- and gender-specific labour force participation remained constant at the 2020 level, a decline of 5.2% to 4.34 million labour force members would be expected by 2050. If the labour force potential were exploited to a somewhat greater extent (activation variant), a slight increase of 2.4% to 4.69 million labour force members would be possible by then.

2020 Corona-related slightly lower labour force than in 2019

Based on recent trends, a slight increase in the labour force could still have been expected in 2020. However, the Corona pandemic and the associated lockdown led to a slump in the labour market. The number of people in work fell compared to the previous year, while unemployment rose significantly. Ultimately, the average 2020 total labour force was 4.58 million, down about 12 000 from 2019's 4.60 million. The projection of the labour force expects the labour force participation to have returned to the long-term foreseeable trends in 2021 due to the recovery of the labour market.

Stronger cohorts move into higher working age

Due to population development and long-term trends in labour force participation, the age group of 55 and over is exclusively responsible for the constant number of people in the labour force. These are the strong baby boom cohorts of the 1960s. Here, the number of people active in the labour market will increase by one fifth by 2050 (+20%; Table 1). By contrast, the number of people under 35 in the labour force will fall by 7% by the middle of the 21st century, while the number of people aged 35 to 54 will decline by 3% over the same period.

In the long term, almost four out of five people aged 15 to 64 will be active in the labour market

The share of women in the labour force was 46.6% in 2020 and will grow to 47.1% by 2040. This is due to the increasing labour force participation of women of prime working age and aged 55 to 64. The overall labour force participation rate for the 15 to 64-year-old population was 76.5% in 2020. The expected changes in age-specific labour force participation will cause the general labour force participation rate to rise to 78.8% by 2040. 

Stronger increase in labour force in Vienna, decline expected in Carinthia

Vienna, the federal capital, can expect the strongest population growth of all federal states. As a result of immigration, the working-age population will increase significantly here, in contrast to the other federal states. Accordingly, the number of people of working age will increase by 8.8% until 2050 and by 11.6% until 2080. From 2022 onwards, Vienna will be home to more than 1 million working-age people. In all other federal states, the labour force will decline or stagnate in the future (Table 2).

Carinthia has to reckon with a shrinking population, especially in working age. The increasing labour force participation will not be able to compensate for the decline in the basic population. According to the forecast, the number of working-age people in Austria's southernmost province will fall most sharply, by 13.3% by 2050 and by 16.9% by 2080. In Styria, the size of the labour force will decrease by 6.3% until 2050 and by 7.7% until 2080. The federal state of Salzburg has to expect a decrease of 4.0% until 2050 and of 5.2% until 2080. In Burgenland, the decline is projected to be 2.6% by 2050, and in 2080 the labour force there will be 1.5% lower than in 2020, the base year of this forecast.

After slight short-term increases, the labour force in Vorarlberg will be 2.5% lower in 2050 and finally 3.6% lower in 2080 than in 2020. In Tyrol, the labour force will remain relatively constant for the time being, but will decrease by 1.8% by 2050 and by 2.6% by 2080. The decline in Upper Austria is 1.6% by 2050 and 1.8% by 2080. In Lower Austria, the projected labour force remains relatively constant over the entire projection period (2050: +0.5%; 2080: +2.0%).

Detailed results and further information on the forecast can be found on our website.

Methodological information, definitions: The labour force projection is based on an extrapolation of age- and sex-specific labour force participation rates by five-year age groups. Multiplied by the main variant of the current population projection, this yields the projected labour force numbers.  
The underlying labour force participation rates are based on the ILO concept (ILO: International Labour Organisation), and thus include all persons who work at least one hour a week for pay or as self-employed persons or assisting family members, or who are unemployed. Military and civilian servants are also considered to be in employment. At the Austrian level, the employment rates are derived from the annual averages of the labour force according to the Labour Force Survey/Microcensus since 2004. The Agreed Employment Statistics (AEST) are used to estimate the labour force in institutional households. The disaggregation by Länder is based on the regional level differences of the labour force participation rates according to AEST.


Table 1: Projection of Austria's labour force by age and sex (trend variant)
Yearlabour force,  
absolute, in 1,000
In percentPercentage of womenLabour force as a percentage ofFor every 1 person 65+ there are ... working persons
15 to 34 years35 to 54 years55 and more years15 to 34 years35 to 54 years55  
u. m. Years
15- to 64-year-oldsTotal population
Table 2: Forecast of Austria's labour force by province (trend variant)
Federal State20202025203020402050206020702080
Lower Austria864.707868.352867.523867.799868.708865.817873.411881.959
Upper Austria782.301778.940775.049773.895769.450760.410763.631768.508

For further inquiries please contact Directorate Social Statistics. Statistics Austria:  
Alexander HANIKA. Tel. +43 (1) 71128-7279 resp  alexander.hanika@statistik gv at

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