Workforce in America Continues to Shrink

The updated labor force statistics were released today. What they show is a continued shrinking pool of people who are either working or who are looking for work. In the last 10 years, the percentage of people working or actively looking for work in the United States has fallen from 66.4% to 63.4%. In the last 30 days, 37,000 people have left the workforce, which equates to a 1/10th percentage point drop. We still have 12,506,000 people who are looking for work but can’t find any.

Consider that of this 63.4%, 7.4% are unemployed, so our actual employment rate for our population is only 58.7%. This means, that for every 100 Americans today, only 59 are working and paying taxes. The other 41 are not working and are, presumably, receiving benefits from the government. Those who are working also receive benefits, but they are also contributing to the system via their taxes.

If we factor in part-time work (which the government defines as less than 35 hours/week), the picture becomes more clear. In July of 2012, there were 16,863,000 people working part-time but who wanted to work full-time. In July of this year, that number is 18,779,000 or an increase of 11.3%. These are people who are counted as “working” for purposes of calculating the unemployment rate, but who are not earning a full salary – which means they are not fully contributing to the tax base we need to cover our expenses.

There are 88,310,000 people who are not in the workforce. Of this group, only 6,558,000 want a job and can’t find one right now. Of the roughly 6 million who want a job, fully half have not looked for a job in the last 4 weeks, indicating a growing discouragement among those unemployed.

I don’t think its’ rocket science to state that we need to reverse these trends. We can’t continue to spend more and tax more from a shrinking taxpayer base. I could pontificate on what I think would solve these problems, but what I think is largely irrelevant to those that run this country. They are consumed by their own ambitions and pretensions. My point in this post is simply to state the obvious: these trends must be reversed or we will *ALL* be in a boatload of stuff that we *ALL* don’t want.

Bill English

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