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Thursday, May 14, 2015

No! There are NOT 93 million people "long term unemployed!"

Don't get buffaloed by right-wing talking points!  We do NOT have 93 million people "unemployed" or "long term unemployed".  We only have 93 million people "not working" if you insist that there is something wrong with people retiring, staying in school, or staying home with kids.


There is a right-wing talking point out there, a talking point unfortunately picked up by some liberals and progressives, that there are "93 million people out there who are either 'not working' or 'unemployed' ".

I've talked about this many times.  I've included pie charts; I've quoted the Bureau of Labor Statistics (the BLS) and I've tried to explain the difference between "unemployed", "not working", and "not in the labor force". Unfortunately, it seems as though there are people who simply can't understand these distinctions.  My pie chart below is based primarily on two Bureau of Labor Statistics charts.  The first is the breakdown of people not in the labor force HERE; the second is the breakdown of young people 16-24 by employment and education status HERE. 

Here is an updated pie chart as of April 2015: 











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I last wrote an article about this issue HERE back in January 2015.  I explained, perhaps in way too much detail, who those 93 million are and why they are NOT the same as people who are the "long-term unemployed" or "not working".  

My current concerns apply to a person who commented on the post I mentioned above, the post from January 2015.  The person brought up many more points than just the business about the "93 million people unemployed or not working", but I'm only addressing that comment because that's the one I know the best.

I will say that if all of the assertions of the person commenting are correct (which they are NOT), we should all be supporting REPUBLICANS because it would be clear that Democratic economic policies haven't done a darned thing.  I don't understand how people who believe as this commenter does can consider themselves liberals or progressives.

I have explained and explained who those 93 million people are and why they "aren't working".  I don't know what more I can say, but I will summarize:
  • Being "not in the labor force" is NOT the same as being "unemployed".  And being "unemployed" or "not in the labor force" is NOT the same as "not working".  
  • If you need a job, one would think you would be looking for work.  If you don't have a job and you are looking for work, you are "UNEMPLOYED".
  • If you aren't working AND you aren't looking for work, AND you are at least 16 AND you aren't in an institution or the military, then  you are NOT IN THE LABOR FORCE and you are part of the 93 million on the pie chart.
  • There are some people who are not working AND not looking for work who nevertheless report themselves as "wanting a job".  But until they get out there and look for work, just one effort a month, they are STILL considered "NOT IN THE LABOR FORCE".  
  • The percent of people not in the labor force who say they "want a job" is small; only about 2-3%.  
  • The overwhelming majority of people NOT IN THE LABOR FORCE are people 55+ years of age and they say they do NOT want a job.  There are 50,166,000 of those people. Think RETIREMENT!
  • Other groups of people who are NOT IN THE LABOR FORCE are people who are disabled but living at home, students in high school or college as long as they are 16, and people staying home with children.  
  • Do we really think this would be a better country if we forced people to work who were retired or disabled?  If we forced kids to quit school at 16 and work?  If we refused to let parents stay home with their kids if they want to and have the resources to do so?
  • "But people are so miserable they are dropping out of the labor force in misery and despair!  That's why there are so many people out there who are 'not working' "   Uh, no.  In April 2015, for every 1 unemployed person who "dropped OUT" of the labor force for any reason, 3.1 people dropped INTO the labor force and either started working or started looking for work. 

How are the people "not in the labor force" living and paying their bills?

Based on the demographics of the people "not in the labor force", we know that most of them are retired.  They are surviving on pensions, assets, Social Security benefits, perhaps part-time jobs, and some of them probably still have a working spouse.

The next largest piece of the pie are students; if they are in high school or college, they are probably being supported by their parents.

People from 24 to 54 who are not working are probably mostly people home with children.  They are probably being supported by the working spouse.

But aren't there people who are homeless or who have no means of support?

Are there some people "not in the labor force" who have no means of support?  Yes, there probably are.  There are people who are homeless, people on the brink of losing their homes.  The numbers of homeless people have declined over the past five years, but there are still many homeless people.  But not 93 million.  The number of homeless people in January 2014, over a year ago, was 578,000.  About ten years ago, the number of homeless people was about 800,000.  We've made progress, but we still have quite a ways to go.

In the meantime, just remember that we do NOT have 93 million people out there with no means of support or 93 million people out there "sponging" off of others.  



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November 2015 details HERE.
December 2015 reports will be released
Friday, January 8, 2016.
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