The Real Unemployment Rate: In 20% Of American Families, Everyone Is Unemployed

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Michael Snyder of The American Dream blog,

According to shocking new numbers that were just released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20 percent of American families do not have a single person that is working.  So when someone tries to tell you that the unemployment rate in the United States is about 7 percent, you should just laugh.  One-fifth of the families in the entire country do not have a single member with a job.  That is absolutely astonishing.  How can a family survive if nobody is making any money?  Well, the answer to that question is actually quite easy.  There is a reason why government dependence has reached epidemic levels in the United States.  Without enough jobs, tens of millions of additional Americans have been forced to reach out to the government for help.  At this point, if you can believe it, the number of Americans getting money or benefits from the federal government each month exceeds the number of full-time workers in the private sector by more than 60 million.

When I was growing up, it seemed like anyone that was willing to work hard could find a good paying job.  But now that has all changed.  At this point, 20 percent of all the families in the entire country do not have a single member that has a job.  That includes fathers, mothers and children.  The following is how broke down the numbers…

A family, as defined by the BLS, is a group of two or more people who live together and who are related by birth, adoption or marriage. In 2013, there were 80,445,000 families in the United States and in 16,127,000—or 20 percent–no one had a job.

To be honest, these really are Great Depression-type numbers.  But over the years “unemployment” has been redefined so many times that it doesn’t mean the same thing that it once did.  The government tells us that the official unemployment rate is about 7 percent, but that number is almost meaningless at this point.

A number that I find much more useful is the employment-population ratio.  According to the employment-population ratio, the percentage of working age Americans that actually have a job has been below 59 percent for more than four years in a row…

Employment Population Ratio 2014

That means that more than 41 percent of all working age Americans do not have a job.

When people can’t take care of themselves, it becomes necessary for the government to take care of them.  And what we have seen in recent years is government dependence soar to unprecedented levels.  In fact, welfare spending and entitlement payments now make up 69 percent of the entire federal budget.  For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “18 Stats That Prove That Government Dependence Has Reached Epidemic Levels“.

And what is even more frightening is that more families are falling out of the middle class every single day.  As a recent CNN article explained, approximately one-third of all U.S. households are living “hand-to-mouth”.  In other words, they are constantly living on the edge of financial disaster…

About one-third of American households live “hand-to-mouth,” meaning that they spend all their paychecks. But what surprised the study authors is that 66% of these families are middle class, with a median income of $41,000. While they don’t have liquid assets, such as savings accounts or mutual fund holdings, they do have homes and retirement accounts, with a median net worth of $41,000.

“We don’t expect them to be living paycheck to paycheck,” said Greg Kaplan, study co-author and assistant professor of economics at Princeton University.

The American Dream is rapidly becoming an American nightmare.

When I was growing up, I lived in a pretty typical middle class neighborhood.  Everyone had a nice home, a couple of cars and could go on vacation during the summer.  I don’t remember ever hearing of anyone using food stamps or going to a food bank.  In fact, I can’t even remember anyone having a parent that was unemployed.  If someone did leave a job, it was usually quite easy to find another one.

But today, the middle class is being ripped to shreds and according to one new report there are 49 million Americans that are dealing with food insecurity in 2014.

How can anyone not see what is happening to us?  America is in the midst of a long-term economic decline, but the mainstream media and most of our politicians seem to think that things are better than ever.  They continue to try to convince us that “business as usual” is the right path to take.

But one-fifth of the families in the entire nation are already totally unemployed.

At what point will we finally admit that what we are doing right now is simply not working?

30 percent of all families unemployed?

40 percent?

50 percent?

If we stay on the road that we are on now, things are going to continue to get worse.  Millions more jobs will be shipped overseas, millions more jobs will be replaced by technology and crippling government regulations will kill millions more jobs.  The middle class will continue to shrink and government dependence will continue to rise.

Most people just want to work hard, put food on the table, pay their mortgages and provide a nice life for their families.

But the percentage of Americans that are successfully able to do that just keeps getting smaller.

Wake up America.

Your middle class is dying.

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Ignatius's picture

This figure of 20% is right in line with what economist John Williams @shadowstats has been reporting for some time now.

AlgorithmOfConsciousness's picture

Serious?  Here I thought we were in the jobless "recovery" and NPR, CNN and NY Times all said the "great recession" ended in 2009.  Well, I'll be damned!

mrpxsytin's picture

Come to Australia. Seriously. If you are a classically liberal minded person with a work ethic then get over here. We need more people like you! And we have so much untapped resources for you to play with. 

The_Dude's picture

I wonder if I can just hop the border and if anyone asks me for my visa, I can just call them rayciss and get away with it.

mrpxsytin's picture

Ah I see. You're confusing classical liberalism with the tyrannical 'liberalism' you have in the US. Please read:

Classical liberalism is what real liberalism is. It survives here in Australia, but only by a thread.

And in fact you hopefully won't get far calling people racyciss. Our gov is working hard to overturn a lot of the tyrannical laws imposed by the Australian version of the Dimocrats.

mrpxsytin's picture

Are you a skilled worker?

If you're not a skilled worker and under 30 then just get over here on a tourist work visa. You can work for up to 2 years before having to reapply. My family regularly employs people under this arrangement. 

AlgorithmOfConsciousness's picture

At least your kangaroos are in the outback.  America has stacked all its kangaroos in D.C.

mrpxsytin's picture

Why don't you like this idea? We are drowning in stupidity over here. I'm crying out for help here!

The local Australian populace is reaching (has reached) a point where it cannot manage the immense wealth of this country. So I see it as a fair trade. You bring your intelligence and work ethic, and in return you get an opportunity for (self)employment and wealth. What could be wrong with that proposition? 

There are only 23million people here. This country is full of opportunity. We haven't even began to cultivate it's true potential! Australia can be the next United States. We only need a few million classical liberals (not to be confused with modern progressives) to add to the existing voting block. Then you basically have the government you all are yearning for. You are not going to get that government back in the USA. But you can establish that government in Australia. 

Basically, what Obama is doing to the US by importing voters, you will do here in Australia. Except you will set up a government that made the USA great to begin with. Why not do it? Are you cowards or something? Too afraid to move to a new place where you will have to actually enact your reforms, rather than just complain online?

malek's picture

Been in the greater Melbourne area recently. It's not much different from any large Californian agglomeration area (which is not a compliment.)

Plus the Australian skilled visa process is a bureaucratic hurdle run with very little focus on real skills nowadays (if it had ever been different before.)
Especially funny is that they lifted the age limit on skilled visas from 45 to 50 - but if you are over 45 you need Masters, PhD, certified language skills in languages other than English and then some to qualify.

mrpxsytin's picture

Well you know what I'm talking about. And surely you know simple math. How many classical liberals would we need to move here to nullify the Melbournite's vote? Answer: a lot less than the amount needed to nullify the number or obama voters...

keep the bastards honest's picture

Not only that but a shit heap of a house 50 minutes out by train costs 1.2 million AUS. That means a 70 year old crappy timber cottage.

Or a smelly brick venereal. Google Glen waverley for example.  And you will have a street full of chinese and indians mate. And the free school is full up.

Aussiekiwi's picture

I'm 17minutes drive to the centre of Perth, in a nice house, value about $500k and that is near the top of the current market as we are coming of a mining boom

813kml's picture

Be careful what you wish for, the US is likely to ship a few million of its inmates over to the Australian penal colony.

mrpxsytin's picture

I really hope they do. Give me your unwanted.

all-priced-in's picture

Can I bring my AKs and 30 round mags to Australia? What about a G19 with standard 15 round mags?

Can I get a CHL / CWP?




mrpxsytin's picture

That would be up to the people. There is an Australian shooters party. Come here, become a voter, and change the laws. This is how it works. If a million 2nd ammendment supporters became Australian voters then I imagine the law would change.

This country is wide open. Grow a pair and move here and actually set up something you believe in. Don't just sit at home complaining.

keep the bastards honest's picture

The US has big beautiful rivers and lots of rains, lots of good soil and lots of resources. lots of people, dead easy to make it and dead easy to go off grid.

Australia does not. Look a the map, tiny sprinkle of green on the edges of the east and lower west coasts.

Gota nice american style right wing guvmt now just bought US 12.5 billion planes and is now talking more taxes and that the  weaker will cop it.

Mmrpxstin is just sending you all up. Sure his family employs people..tourists and cheap

Aussiekiwi's picture

Do your own research is what I say, use the Internet and do a comparison your self, or go and live next to your beautiful rivers, that sounds nice as well, must be a lot of jobs there.

keep the bastards honest's picture

Sarcasm? mrpssytin

if not sarc then it should be.

NO Keep Away from Australia. We are FULL UP.We are fked and overflowing.

Our sustainable population is 22 million max and we are well over the. PLUS 1 mill  approx asian tourists per year let alone the rest and indian an asian students and more  europeans out on holiday work visas...and multinationals with their indians etc out working here and more. Everything is worse in the last couple of years, takes 6 weeks to get internet connected ie switched to existing physical service instead of a few days.

Immigrants get off the plane and apply for benefits  the first  day. Its disgusting.

Keep away from us. fk off

Aussiekiwi's picture

Typical aussie, Australia is cool, universal health care which is excellent, I got hooked up with Internet in 24hours, Work situation has got a little tighter over the last 5 years but I still expect to make at least $40 an hour and I don't have a degree.  Do your research on the net as to where you want to go first, be prepared to move, travel light until you find a place to settle.

mademesmile's picture

"But, but but," said the talking head, "that chart includes all the retired couples." I don't know one retired couple that's full time retired - all are working at least part time - stepped foot in a Walmart recently?

infinity8's picture

I will sell my sweaty balls for pretty fucking cheap before I take a .gov hand-out.

Xibalba's picture

Really?  Get it while you can is the name of the game here.  See: TARP, HAMP, etc.

infinity8's picture

Yeah, really. I sleep like a baby. Kill me with my character in tact, thank you. and fuck the acronyms.

Xibalba's picture

I commend you for your patriotism.  But we know how it all ends...

infinity8's picture

What!?!? To thine ownself be true. Where did I cry patriot except to myself? And, I'm certain it ends badly but that doesn't mean I need to compromise what I stand for. There is ZERO reason anyone else should have to cover me.

Xibalba's picture

Sorry, but I couldn't know what you stand for based on your comment that 'you'll sell your balls' before taking what Uncle Sam seems so willing to give out.  If you belive that taxes are theft, playing Robin Hood by redistributing cash is kleptocratic, and that democracy is dead,  then we're on the same page. 

infinity8's picture

I do believe that "democracy" was never really going to work and taxes are bullshit. I "lowered my tax profile" (as another ZH'r put it recently) a long time ago. That doesn't mean I feel like I need to milk off of the stupid populace that "contribute". They are shrinking, after all.

seek's picture

You know, that used to be my mindset -- and still is, because I'm working.

But...<rant on>

I pay a shitload of taxes, on the order of a new top-line Porsche (or low end of Ferrari) every single year. Meanwhile our government is giving away so much fucking money that they have to borrow 40% of it, and it's going to Afghanistan, the Ukraine, a bunch of O's fucking friends, etc. I have friends and family that are struggling with the same mindset as you. And then I had the epiphany that the government is counting on people like me and my friend and family to pay taxes, doesn't plan on making good promises made (like SS), and need the real workers to not leach.

So fuck it, if your though process is that you'll never take a .gov handout, you're exactly the kind of person the money should be going to. If you're having a hard time right now, please, please take as much as you fucking can from the .gov while you can. It'll hasten the collapse, and it'll be money going to far better causes than Halliburton and the permanent welfare clan. Sure, they have to print to cover it, but that devalues the dollars these fucktards are giving away, too, and it devalues the financial assets the 0.01% that bought this government have. In other words, the best strategic and moral option today is to take every dime you can from the government, since in doing so you're taking away from all their unjust causes.

I worked 60-80 hour+ weeks for a decade to build my business to the point where it'd be paying so much in, and trust me, I do not hold it against anyone who soaks this corrupt system for every dime they're legally entitled to. Help Thelma and Louise this fucker so we can start the next one, and the sooner people who never take a handout can get back to working and building a real economy instead of this sick joke.</rant>

infinity8's picture

Believe me, I've considered it. I have @14" of old steel (1980, surgical, stainless) welded up to my spine and I CAN do a lot of things that I SHOULD NOT do anymore. So, I choke on the word "disabled" a little. I have been encouraged at least 3x in the last 10 years to apply by medical professionals. I was really insulted (and still fairly young) the 1st time. Fuck it. I have ranted on ZH multiple times about our "health-care" system. The crowd wanted to hate on Leo but, anyone who has never had any major medical should appreciate their good fortune. It's a catch 22 for anyone with a legitimate issue.

Theta_Burn's picture

In the same boat as you..

Between the taxes, and more so in my case the fucking insurance costs are killing me.

And after all that is delt with, lots of times I need to chase after my $.

Construction used to be fun, not so much anymore...

Yes_Questions's picture



FWIW, there are some of us out here toiling to assure a builder does NOT have to chase down the money they've earned.

and sometimes, some of us have to go around a slow paying builder to make sure his/her bills get paid.


its sad the provider has to vet the client anymore...

infinity8's picture

And most that can swing a hammer or invested in a lot of tools getting paid 40-60% of what they made @8 yrs ago. Yay!


A Dollar Short's picture

The reason for that is Brown.

Yes_Questions's picture



aaaaand breath.


Good Rant!

cherry picker's picture

My ex was a vp for a bank in CA.  They cut employee hours and paid them as little as possible, yet they expected them to dress and act professionally.  Meanwhile the CEO was pulling in about $2 million a year.


I told her that the board should reduce his income by about a million and pay the tellers more.


This was after a single mother teller was cited for not having the right clothing.  She cried.  Finally someone felt pity and took her out to buy some decent clothing.


That is what is wrong with this whole world.

seek's picture

And those same single mom tellers are going to be absolutely hammered by Obamacare, as one of them recently told me the choices she's looking at. The system is set up to fuck the working.

JuliaS's picture

Tellers are cannon fodder. Banks treat them as talking ATM's. I have a friend in a local branch. All but commission-earning mortgage brokers make minimum wage, but are expected to act like they own the bank.

Seasmoke's picture

Send every adult $52,000 every January 1st and call it a year.

4 Freedoms's picture

May I have mine in gold on New Year's Eve?

fonzannoon's picture

"When I was growing up, I lived in a pretty typical middle class neighborhood.  Everyone had a nice home, a couple of cars and could go on vacation during the summer.  I don’t remember ever hearing of anyone using food stamps or going to a food bank.  In fact, I can’t even remember anyone having a parent that was unemployed.  If someone did leave a job, it was usually quite easy to find another one."


It was a tiny moment in history, an abberation. wake the fuck up, because it's over and it ain't coming back.

i_call_you_my_base's picture

It's also a very narrow perspective. There were plenty of poor people, this guy just never saw it.

Totentänzerlied's picture

Two entire generations think white middle-class suburban post-war America is an appropriate norm, rather than the single greatest deviation. Actually, of course, they just want their gravy train back.