Saturday, October 11, 2014

Why are 90 million Americans not working?

Recently, it was reported that the unemployment rate dropped to a low of below 6%. By the sound of it, a falling unemployment rate sounds like good news but it is not always an indication of good news.

The unemployment rate is the total number of people without a job and looking for work divided by the total labor force. If people find work, the unemployment rate goes down. However, if people just give up and stop looking for work, they are no longer part of the labor force and the unemployment rate goes down.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 93 million Americans not part of the labor force. Over the last few months, I was wondering why so many people just aren't working. So I decided to do a little research.

How many Americans are there? 319 million according to the US Census.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, our work force is 147 million Americans and the total number of Americans not in the labor force equals 93 million Americans.

Those two statistics added up total to 240 million Americans. The difference between 319 million and 240 million Americans is 79 million Americans. I would assume that most of these Americans would be children. Just to double check, I looked up the total number of children aged 0-17 years of age and came up with the figure of 75 million, so that is pretty close.

My next question is this. How many total jobs are in America. According to the department of numbers, the total is 147 million if you look at CPS or 139 million if you look at CES.

Well, that looks like a pretty easy conclusion to draw. If our total labor force is only 147 million and there are only 147 million jobs, there are 93 million people not working because there aren't enough jobs.

My next question is this. Of that 93 million people, how many aren't working because they are retired?

According to the social security website, there are 64 million Americans collecting either social security, supplemental income, or both. This does not guarantee that they are not working but this next calculation is more of an estimate than the ones above.

Assuming that 64 million Americans are retired and not working, 93 million Americans minus 64 million (assumed) retired Americans leaves 29 million Americans not retired, not children, and not looking for work.

This 29 million I calculated only counts the people not part of the labor force. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the actual number of unemployed Americans equal 18 million. Both these figures added together equal 47 million. Almost 15% of the total US population.