The Un-Retiring, Increasingly Disabled Non-Working American Dream

For the past few years (here from 2012 to most recently here) we have vociferously argued that the state of the US labor force is anything but healthy (and anything but cyclical) as the structural aging of America (where work is punished, college is free, and retirement long forgotten) drags at The American Dream. Even Goldman Sachs' Jan Hatzius - now desperate for a less positive spin to employment, in hopes of keeping The Fed dovish-er longer-er, has admitted that because of discouragement, disability, and schooling, coupled with a slowdown in the rise of the retired population will slow the pace of decline of the unemployment rate.


Where do we stand now? Exhibit 1 shows the cumulative increase in the population shares reporting themselves inactive because of discouragement, disability, schooling, and retirement.

Note the considerable increase in the "Disabled" band and "In School, Don't Want A Job" since the financial crisis.

Of course, the structual retirement of Boomers is one major source of the rise in non-participation. However, as Goldman notes, when the retirement rate is adjusted for the actual population weights as they have evolved (i.e. larger and larger numbers of Americans are in the older cohorts and so higher numbers of retirees is expected but must be adjusted for the actual number of potential retirees - not simply the aggregate population), we find something that Zero Hedge has been screaming about for a number of years...

The age-adjusted Retirement Rate is tumbling...

Simply put - more and more aging Americans are forced back to work since their savings are inadequate or as Goldman eloquently puts it - "economically motivated early retirement is again on the decline."

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So to sum up - The American Dream is now... work your whole life (and we mean your whole life)... the number of workers 55 and over just hit 32.9 million, up 1.3 million from a year ago, and an all time high.


Live on government transfers via Disability, Student Loans, or any of the myriad "fair" handouts being offered today.

America - where work is punished.