Taking a look at the 95 million Americans not in the labor force:  1 private sector worker is supporting every 2 Americans.

There continues to be an inordinately large number of Americans that are not in the labor force.  There are a variety of reasons as to why these Americans are not working.  Some are retired and some are disabled.  But the reality is we have a massive number of people that need to be supported either by their own funds or government assistance.  When you look at our total population, we have roughly 1 private sector worker supporting 2 Americans.  In this article I wanted to examine the nature of the 95 million Americans not in the labor force.

The army of those not in the labor force

We have a growing number of Americans that are not in the labor force.  Since 1990 we have added more than 30 million Americans to this category.

Take a look at this chart:


Source:  BLS

Let us look at the figures:


Now you need to remember that this is a massive cohort of 95 million.  Just break down a few categories here:

Going to school:               17+ million

Could not find work:       Roughly 1 million

Ill or disabled:                    18+ million

It is probably worth noting that many people going to college are getting into massive debt that they are unable to pay back while starting out in low wage jobs.  We’ve also discussed that many are going into “retirement” but are really depending largely on Social Security to not end up on the streets.

Now some people don’t think this is an issue but given the rising cost of liabilities and are push to cut back on taxes, this is an issue.  It is one of those items that is ignored until it is too late.  We have already tasted the elixir of low interest rates brought on by the Federal Reserve and there is probably no going back on this.

Many people are dropping out of the labor force.  A very common spot to end up in is college.  Now college can be a powerful tool to regroup and find a new path.  Education is something that is important whether you go to school or learn on your own.  But going into $100,000 of debt for a degree with no market value is going to become an albatross for many.  Student debt is now a national crisis.

What is telling is the proportion of those 25 to 54 that are not in the labor force:


This is normally the peak employment age range.  What is going on?  You have nearly 25% of this group out of the workforce.  We’ve talked about the large number of Millennials living at home.

So the above should give you a better idea of who is not in the work force.  Again this is rarely talked about in the mainstream press.

If you enjoyed this post click here to subscribe to a complete feed and stay up to date with today’s challenging market!      


4 Comments on this post


  1. J said:

    “Taking a look at the 95 million Americans not in the labor force: 1 private sector worker is supporting every 2 Americans.”


    So, Yes, America’s private sector workers (most of whom are foreigners SHOULD AND MUST support every 2 AMERICANS. AMERICANS JOBS HAVE BEEN STOLEN FROM THEM. AMERICA DID IT…AMERICA HAS TO PAY!

    August 6th, 2017 at 7:19 am
  2. tomnchrist said:

    There are not enough jobs that pay a middle class wage to handle more job seekers. Reduce welfare participants and disability claims will help cover Social Security cost.
    Looks like the workforce is returning to a single family member wage earner, and more care givers (mothers/wives) like it was before WWII.
    Best outlook is for a smaller economy, with families living in smaller houses and on less than half of the present income. All of the free government funds are drying up, and College will be restricted to the few that can afford to pay for it.

    August 6th, 2017 at 7:20 am
  3. Ambrose Bierce said:

    You get more respect for flipping hamburgers than caring for the sick or elderly. The real game changer is this, make college a job, pay people to do it.

    August 8th, 2017 at 9:48 am
  4. maxblockm said:

    “Couldn’t find a job” is only 1%, but I wonder how much of that 18% “Going to school” is really “Going to school because couldn’t find a job,” and 45% “Retired” is “Retired because couldn’t find a job?”

    August 31st, 2017 at 6:31 pm


Subscribe Form

Subscribe to Blog

My Budget 360

Enter your email address to receive updates from My Budget 360:

100% Private & Spam Free.


Subscribe in a reader


Popular – All Time

  • 1. How much does the Average American Make? Breaking Down the U.S. Household Income Numbers.
  • 2. Top 1 Percent Control 42 Percent of Financial Wealth in the U.S. – How Average Americans are Lured into Debt Servitude by Promises of Mega Wealth.
  • 3. Is college worth the money and debt? The cost of college has increased by 11x since 1980 while inflation overall has increased by 3x. Diluting education with for-profits. and saddling millions with debt.
  • 4. The Perfect $46,000 Budget: Learning to Live in California for Under $50,000.
  • 5. Family Budget: How to go Broke on $100,000 a year. Why the Middle Class has a hard time Living in Expensive Urban Areas.
  • 6. Lining up at Midnight at Wal-Mart to buy Food is part of the new Recovery. Banks offering Mattress Interest Rates. The Invisible Recovery Outside of Wall Street.
  • 7. You Cannot Afford a $350,000 Home with a $75,000 Household Income!
  • 8. Crisis of generations – younger Americans moving back home in large numbers. Student loan default rates surging largely due to for-profit college expansion.
  • 9. The next massive debt bubble to crush the economy – 10 charts examining the upcoming implosion of the student loan market. $1 trillion in student loans and defaults sharply increasing.
  • 10. Welcome to the new model of retirement. No retirement. In 1983 over 60 percent of American workers had some kind of defined-benefit plan. Today less than 20 percent have access to a plan and the majority of retired Americans largely rely on Social Security as their de facto retirement plan.
  • Categories