"They Just Don't Want A Job" - The Fed's Grotesque "Explanation" Why 94.6 Million Are Out Of The Labor Force

Tyler Durden's picture

In a note seeking to "explain" why the US labor participation rate just crashed to a nearly 40 year low earlier today as another half a million Americans decided to exit the labor force bringing the total to 94.6 million people...

... this is what the Atlanta Fed has to say about the most dramatic aberration to the US labor force in history: "Generally speaking, people in the 25–54 age group are the most likely to participate in the labor market. These so-called prime-age individuals are less likely to be making retirement decisions than older individuals and less likely to be enrolled in schooling or training than younger individuals."

This is actually spot on; it is also the only thing the Atlanta Fed does get right in its entire taxpayer-funded "analysis."

However, as the chart below shows, when it comes to participation rates within the age cohort, while the 25-54 group should be stable and/or rising to indicate economic strength while the 55-69 participation rate dropping due to so-called accelerated retirement of baby booners, we see precisely the opposite. The Fed, to its credit, admits this: "participation among the prime-age group declined considerably between 2008 and 2013."


And this is where the wheels fall off the Atlanta Fed narative. Because the regional Fed's very next sentence shows why the world is doomed when you task economists to centrally-plan it:

The decrease in labor force participation among prime-age individuals has been driven mostly by the share who say they currently don't want a job. As of December 2014, prime-age labor force participation was 2.4 percentage points below its prerecession average. Of that, 0.5 percentage point is accounted for by a higher share who indicate they currently want a job; 2 percentage points can be attributed to a higher share who say they currently don't want a job.

And there you have it: there are nearly 100 million working-age Americans who could be in the labor force, but are not "mostly" because they don't want a job.

Nothing about the lack of job demand as mega corporations continue to lay workers off in droves instead of hiring, instead using every last dollar of free cash flow to buyback their own stock to boost executive compensation instead of growing their company and hire more workers.

Nothing about the collapse in small business formation - that driver of 80% of US employment - as firm exit rates are now greater than firm entry rates

Nothing about the inability to get a job in a world in which the rest of
the global is lapping the US in educational and labor skills.

Nothing about the US economy never having left the post-2008 depression where $4.5 trillion in Fed credit was created just to boost the S&P to all time highs and never making it to the actual economy (until the helicopters finally start paradropping of course)

Nothing about millions of aging, 55 and over, Americans refusing to retire or quit their job simply because they have no return on their savings to fall back on thank to the Fed's ZIRP, thus keeping the labor pipeline clogged and preventing younger Americans from getting promoted and achieving better paying jobs.

Nothing about a Millennial generation encumbered with $1 trillion in debt, that is so terrified of its job prospects and having to pay down its debt, it choose instead to keep rolling and piling on to this debt by remaining in college indefinitely

Nothing about the perverted incentive structure of a welfare state that makes it more attractive to collect generous government handouts which end up punishing hard work.

None of that.

You see, it is because Americans "mostly don't want a job."

And these are the pompous academic "intellectuals" who are supposed to micromanage the US economy. But how can they fix the biggest problem facing the US economy when they fail to even accurately diagnose what the problem is?

Which, incidentally, is why the same old Fed tools will be used and abused in hopes of kicking the can down a few more months at at time, be it QE 4, 5, 100, or ever more negative rates, both of which are coming.

How long will this continue? Now that is a very simple question: it will continue until the dollar loses its reserve status, just like the pound before it, and the livre before that, and the guilder before that, and so on.

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RopeADope's picture

No, Atlanta Fed...

Americans don't want to be the slave bitch of the Fed.

El Oregonian's picture

Is this the "official" Gov't participation in the labor force statistics, or the labor farce statistics?

Just curious...

J S Bach's picture

That World Reserve Currency chart looks like a stairway.  It's so easy to picture the Rothschild Dynasty and their predecessors triumphantly climbing it from sucker country to sucker country.

monk27's picture

We have yet to catch up with the French...

Funny Money's picture

Why would they want a job when they're being paid to not have one.

Gaius Frakkin' Baltar's picture

All FED explanations for why everything is total shit can be summed up in the following statement:

"It's not our fault."

Paveway IV's picture

95 million Americans that don't want a job. Among them, plenty of good men that see no need for a job.

They're trying to free up their time... to devote to Project Mayhem

prefan4200's picture

Why fucking work when you can get paid and get food and free shit and do whatever the fuck you want with your free time.  Face facts, the free shit army won the war and the politicians they've elected are in control.  It's over.  Full retard depression and collapse for the US.  Possible Russia/China EMP or electric grid takedown and game over.  We don't have a President and Congress with the guts to fight anything.  Hell is on the way. 

Macchendra's picture

Did you have the guts to fight all the jobs being sent overseas?

viahj's picture

that would have been epic (your reply) if your .gif ended with the words "mad bro?"

Macchendra's picture

Seriously, what moron is saying 'I blame "the war and corporate party" and suggest that we elect the "SUPER War and Corporate Party (tm)" who will have the courage to lower wages until people can't even afford 3x5 cages and have the courage to go to war with ALL of the banksters enemies on our dime.' ?!?!?!?  Meanwhile, they are ass-raping us with their 200 trillion dollar derivatives hairball cornering the market on rael-estate with their phony wealth until mortgages are 90 percent of your income.  Then we blame the loan victims for being "sub-prime".  People need to grow a freakin brain cell!!!!! >:-@

OceanX's picture

"They don't want the bills either..."

Lifestyle changes of the vanguard: 



FireBrander's picture

"They don't want the bills either..."

It's not how much money you make, it's how much you spend!

Spend less = less need for money

Less need for money = less need for work

less need for work = more time for everything else.

I adopted this philosophy 15 years ago and would NEVER to go back to "Keeping up with the Joneses"...FUCK the Joneses...they're miserable psycopaths donating WAY TOO much of their life "earning" money to buy shit they don't really need that generally just adds MORE stress to their life. How many boats do you see in driveways that NEVER MOVE?

ebworthen's picture

Making payments on it 365 days/year so they can take it out 2-3 days in the Summer and post pics on Facebook.  "Look at Me!"

Fukushima Fricassee's picture

Unions and Lawyers are the most responsible for that shit along with poket politicans like Clinton up front.

Usurious's picture

jobs going overseas is  function of debt money............pls pay attention,....

new game's picture

moar fiat debt=moar control of the trapped users of this very debt we chase for 40 productive years of life., like hampsters running on a wheel in a cage. now the cycle is complete with no upward mobility via wage growth. truely trapped paycheck to paycheck unless you or i abandon our pride and join the fsa to speed the demise to mayhem...

i chose to opt out, debt free with some resouces to continue a very modest life, free of tv, iphones and fees to enslave myself.

taxes and inflation are my biggest concern...

chop, chop, wood that is, as winter is approaching, ha.

today is truely a gift. a stroll in the woods with beautifull weather and fall in the air.

maybe a grouse will become diner.

thanks the spirits of life, and photosythesis. amen...

ModernMusket's picture

You are funny. Clueless, but funny. I know quite a few that have been out of work a long time. First, if you are over 50, forget anyone even looking at you. Unemployment runs out after 26 weeks. Then what? If you own any assets or have more than 6500 bucks in anything liquid, forget any government assistance.That could be a second car, stocks, 401k, whatever.  So, no free phones, no EBT,etc. You are on your own. I have a buddy who has applied to 134 jobs (he keeps records), got 3 interviews from all that, and no job.

ModernMusket's picture

You are funny. Clueless, but funny. I know quite a few that have been out of work a long time. First, if you are over 50, forget anyone even looking at you. Unemployment runs out after 26 weeks. Then what? If you own any assets or have more than 6500 bucks in anything liquid, forget any government assistance.That could be a second car, stocks, 401k, whatever.  So, no free phones, no EBT,etc. You are on your own. I have a buddy who has applied to 134 jobs (he keeps records), got 3 interviews from all that, and no job.

graspAU's picture

Depends on the state. In some states, you don't have to show assets for food stamps, just income. You only have to show assets if you or someone in your household has broken program rules in the past. From a guide to getting foodstamps in MD: "For most households in Maryland, information about assets (checking account, savings, and cash on hand) is no longer required when applying for Food Stamps. Certain households, such as those consisting of someone who has intentionally broken program rules in the past, may be asked to show that they have less than $2,000 in resources in order to qualify for Food Stamps. This amount does not include the value of your car or home or certain types of savings, such as retirement or college funds".

Now I'm fully employed, but as more jobs go bye-bye, or to Asia, I'm doing my research on how to survive with much less income should the need arise. You should see some of the former middle class lining up at food banks and food kitchens, and on EBT.

Luc X. Ifer's picture

Don't worry, shortly you will be pushed in forced labour camps - Arbeit Macht Frei 2.0 USA Made! Finally, again something Made In USA (labour camps)




mtndds's picture

Then how do these phuckers still buy big ass pickup trucks and bass/water ski boats?  I dont get it.

FreeShitter's picture

Credit. Max out every fucking thing.

NidStyles's picture

Live it up until they won't exteend it anymore then declare bankruptcy. Extend and pretend is the name of the game. 

new game's picture

from what i see a majority are working for a hell of a lot less than 20 years ago(inflation ajusted). two incomes or toasted porch monkey status. lower than shit rates allow max leverage, paycheck to paycheck, truck payment and shack status w/shiney f-150 in driveway. dont cha know, the merican way.

keep on truckin mutha fuckers and bitchez, ha...

ArkansasAngie's picture

To a certain degree it isn't.  


The things that could be done to stop the things that are causing most of this is CONgress.


And ... it is CONgress that should be stopping these yahoos.



Bumpo's picture

Especially at $10-12 an hour.

toady's picture

Bingo! I like how they say this generic "jobs". Do you want a "job" flipping burgers, delivering packages, in a call center? Almost all part time and no benifits? Fuck no you don't want that "job"! That's the reality here.

ModernMusket's picture

That's exactly right. My brother ended up with that after getting laid off from a long job at a big company. He has to commute 35 miles for a three night a week job at a call center for $13/hour. That's only because he got his insurance license they required.

toady's picture

Phoenix is quickly becoming a call center Mecca. Everyone hates the India call centers so much that they've started bringing some back stateside, and  now that they've driven compensation so low it's working for the corporations. I get calls a couple times a month, some douche corporation wanting me to do three nines (27 hours a week, just under the Obamacare limit) for $9-$12 an hour. 

Fuck that! 

object_orient's picture

Nah, take the job! Then steal everything that isn't bolted down. That's how they roll at Walmart.

toady's picture

I did once, about 8 years ago, back when they were still offering 40+medical. I was resetting modems for a DSL provider, and I swear to god, 90-95% of the population is retarded. 70% of the calls were the people didn't plug it in or push the power button. The other 30% were trying to daisy chain 20-30 pc's to a single Ethernet port. 

Stupid people. Never again! 

HungryPorkChop's picture

@toady : Best call in I ever heard about was from a DELL employee back in the late 1990's.  They had someone call Tech Support that said their cup holder quit working.  Obviously tech support couldn't figure out what they meant and kept asking them questions if it was a free giveaway, promotion product, etc.  Turns out they were using their CD ROM drive to hold their coffee cup.  

That one takes the cake! 

ReasonForLife's picture

Provide a notarized and verifiable affidavit from each of the 94.6 million jobless, affirming that they don't want a job, then I will listen to you further.

JRobby's picture

Actually Fed Fucks, they do want a job.

Many people who were preparing for retirement 15 years ago are still in the work force or looking because of



insanelysane's picture

People don't want a job AND don't need a job.  Which is why when BO was up for re-election, he won even though all economic indicators were in the shitter.  Jimmy Carter lost back in 1980 because welfare didn't pay for anything so you needed a job to feed your family.  Those days are long gone until the entire system fails.

Pool Shark's picture




We have a winner!!!

In 1980 TANF (Temporary Aid to Needy Familes) was just that; temporary.

Now you can stay on Welfare your entire life.

Here in California (where we allegedly had our 'Welfare Reform' in 1998) the Democrats who run the state just gave Food Stamps benefits to convicted Felony Drug Dealers. Prior to April 1st 2015 (a dubious date) anyone with a felony conviction for selling meth, cocaine, heroin, PCP, etc. was ineligible to get SNAP benefits.

Now, all the drug-dealers are signing-up for welfare;... from INSIDE prison and jail, so they'll have them as soon as they get released.


Why would anyone want a job when you have to make $69,000 a year to break even over Welfare benefits:



We are Soooooo doomed...

Amish Hacker's picture

Current system is a hammock, not a safety net.

MissCellany's picture

A hammock for the undeserving, I'd agree.

But for someone who does fall on temporary hard times, yet has a history of being hardworking, self-supporting, and not inclined to make babies they can't afford to raise, it's pretty damn hard to get some help if you really do need it.

I can't quite figure out how the system-gamers do it and stay on welfare for ages...but I've seen that the system isn't there for the people who've been paying for it most of their lives.

Amish Hacker's picture

Very true, Miss C. One tipoff to how the system is being gamed: as unemployment benefits started running out, the number of people applying for disability benefits started rising. This is easily Googled. Hard to believe their disabilities occurred with such perfect timing.

Now, I have a friend who is genuinely disabled after 35 years of working as a painting contractor, and the checks he gets aren't enough for food and a roof. It really hurts to see others, not really disabled, "taking a little time off" on my---and my friend's--- dime.

That said, all this is small grift. The real crime is occuring on a much higher level, the banks, the 1%, those close to the nexus of government and big business. Abusive corporate welfare is much more damaging, and nearly universal. The New Normal.

JimBowie1958's picture

The number of people getting disability is going up because we have MORE BABY BOOMERS hitting old age, and thats when the back goes bad, genius.

Colonel Klink's picture

Boy that's a really stupid comment.  Yeah because all those disability claims are going to boomers.  You're a fucking idiot!

centerline's picture

Yup.  And now, decades later they are zombies.  The cities are going to burn.

Handful of Dust's picture

We're gonna need lots more rope and a few more dozen branding irons.

Bring the Gold's picture

Oh good you bought the propaganda around welfare and agree with the FED. Those figures are utter bullshit. I actually work with welfare recipients and the image you paint is unbelievably off base. The problem has been and remains welfare to the ELITES. Every day I see people who live in abject poverty and roach infested housing. People desperate to find work even minimum wage jobs that are lower in real terms than 1976 wages (let alone before). The eat utter garbage because it's all they can afford. They are given the bare minimum to prevent a civil war.

Money is dumped into think tanks to spew out the propaganda you've fallen for. It's utter fucking bullshit. Housing assistance is woefully short of reality and every day more Americans, mostly children, become homeless. Meanwhile, in at least one state withdrawal limits for TANF cause recipients to give 10% of their grant to the banks via ATM fees. Getting social security is unbelievably difficult and takes years. I had someone who was paralyzed in one limb due to a gunshot wound (that occurred when they were a child caught in a crossfire) rejected. Subsidized Housing has a 5 year wait list that is closed to new applicants. All the shelters are full and can't even take in children. TANF for a mom and her child is a whopping $432. Wow! That's some rich living especially since a one bedroom studio in the area costs $850 if you can find a steal, the average is $1000. Those are facts on the ground not regurgitated one in several thousand best case scenarios that your propaganda proposes.

You're either a troll or a useful idiot deflecting blame from the elites and putting it into the poor and vulnerable just as has been done during every economic crash in history so people like the rothschilds and Rockefellers Jamie Dimon's and Lloyd blankfeins of the world can get off Scott free while the lower classes slaughter each other. Thanks for helping push their agenda pool shark!!

dot_bust's picture

Excellent points. I agree.

The rich rip everyone off and tell them that their poverty is due to laziness. It's akin to pissing on someone's head and telling him that it's raining.

As you said, the rich are the biggest Welfare ricipients, not the poor. Big corporations get endless tax breaks (aka tax incentives) from many U.S. states while the poor and the middle class pay more and more. These same corporations ship manufacturing jobs to other countries and also bring in foreign workers on H-1B Visas.

The United States has been gutted by big business, which uses big money to get American politicians to give them preference over ordinary American workers. For the masses, the result is taxation without representation.

And, now, the poor and the middle class are being forced by the government to buy unaffordable health insurance. Failure to do so results in a fine. It's a surefire way for giant health insurance companies to force people to buy their products. Freedom of choice has been eliminated.

mkkby's picture

BULL FUCKING SHIT, BTG.  Welfare has no business paying poor people to live in areas where a one bedroom apartment is $1000.  Everyone should be living where they can afford to live.  In fly over country you can live quite nicely on a very small income.

By your faggoty socialist argument, we should pay poor people to live in the hamptons, or beach front hawaii.  Just because that is where they prefer to apply for their benefits.

Jobs are plentiful if you are willing to get a little sweaty or dirty.  Very few of these entitled poor people are, because the free shit is a better deal for them.

We should be very generous TO THE TRUELY DISABLED.  Someone who is blind can answer phones, and a person in a wheel chair can do computer work (so can your person with one arm).  The severly mentally ill cannot, but they are probably 1% of the population.

psyclone's picture

BTG is spot on!

only a fool blames the powerless for their problems.