Green Room

34.3 percent of Americans don’t want a job

posted at 1:16 pm on November 4, 2013 by

At some point in our lives, each of us has said to ourselves, “Wow I really wish I didn’t have to work.” Shortly after making that statement, we snap back into reality and understand we should be productive members of society. This typically includes being employed. Because of this basic economic fact, I found it alarming that more than 1/3 of the work force just doesn’t want a job. The Wall Street Journal has the numbers:

34.3%: Share of Americans over age 16 who say they don’t want a job, up from about 30% two decades ago. Americans aren’t just leaving the labor force — those who have left it are drifting further away.

 photo Screenshot2013-11-04at12037PM_zps4d20d754.png

Being unemployed is a major problem. Not wanting to be employed is an even bigger one.

In a new paper, economists Regis Barnichon and Andrew Figura divide up those out of the labor force using a simpler standard: whether or not the person says they want a job. And they uncover an interesting previously unnoticed trend: As a share of all those “not in the labor force,” the number of people who want a job has been generally declining since the early 1980s.

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Why would you want to work if you can barely keep your spoils?

antisense on November 4, 2013 at 1:20 PM

Here’s a real uncomfortable question: what are the gender/race breakdowns of those numbers?

Does anyone really want to go there? I suspect not.

PackerBronco on November 4, 2013 at 1:24 PM

You sure it isn’t 47%?

nazo311 on November 4, 2013 at 1:33 PM

Then 1/3 of the population can live in squalor and subsist on “a tea and two slices.” Don’t ask me to pay for your lazy ass.

teacherman on November 4, 2013 at 1:38 PM

I wonder how skewed those numbers are? How many homemakers answered “No, I don’t want a job, I have one.”? How many were retirees? (And, no, I’m not going to go dig through the article for that.) I’m not saying the number isn’t terribly high, but that I wonder about the journalistic skills involved in the story.

GWB on November 4, 2013 at 1:54 PM

Here’s a real uncomfortable question: what are the gender/race breakdowns of those numbers?

Does anyone really want to go there? I suspect not.

PackerBronco on November 4, 2013 at 1:24 PM

To be fair, there should also be an age breakdown. Retirement isn’t exactly cheap anymore.

nobar on November 4, 2013 at 1:59 PM

“Why would I ever want or need a job when my main man Barack and the government provide me with everything I need and if one cent of my public assistance is ever threatened, Democrats in Congress and in state legislatures across the country will mobilize me and millions of people like me to march on and burn down the homes and offices of anyone who stands in our way.”

Affectionately yours you hateful bigot tea bagging racists,

The Obama electorate

Sacramento on November 4, 2013 at 2:05 PM

With regard to charity, we need to bring back both shame and the concept of the “deserving” vs. the “undeserving” poor.

“Poverty” has become way too damn comfortable in this country.

Maddie on November 4, 2013 at 2:12 PM

Does anyone really want to go there? I suspect not.

PackerBronco on November 4, 2013 at 1:24 PM

Actually, I’d love to go there. I think it would be quite an eye-opener. For some of us, at least.

Maddie on November 4, 2013 at 2:14 PM

#BuckFarack

Nutstuyu on November 4, 2013 at 2:23 PM

I bet a larger proportion of drug users are on that side of the fence than non drug users.

astonerii on November 4, 2013 at 2:25 PM

FREE SHIT ARMY folks! They must be made miserable in their poverty or the country is over.

Murphy9 on November 4, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Well then we need to go back to no work no eat. If you can’t prove you’ve looked for a job you lose your benefits. Nothing motivates like hunger. Sure explains why Obozo sits at a 40% approval rate.

neyney on November 4, 2013 at 4:18 PM

Why work when I can vote myself anything I want. Long live democracy!

Uncle Seth The Noble on November 4, 2013 at 4:36 PM

Then they shouldn’t eat.

Akzed on November 4, 2013 at 4:47 PM

The parasites i.e. the democrat voters… nothing new under the sun… However 4.3% increase in the number of parasites from two decades ago is enough to win the elections for the democrats…

mnjg on November 4, 2013 at 4:51 PM

The question is how to discourage these parasites from voting… If we can solve this problem we will win every elections…

mnjg on November 4, 2013 at 4:51 PM

I can’t get animated about this, in part because of the reasons GWB outlined above, and in part because I suspect many people are considering solely the duties of the job when asked the question and not the salary (e.g. “You’re asking me if I want a job? You mean work for its own sake? Uh, no.”)

Stoic Patriot on November 4, 2013 at 5:17 PM

37% of folks will never enjoy the pleasure of achieving anything for themselves. Wasted lives. Generation after generation wasted.

Bmore on November 4, 2013 at 5:57 PM

How to enlighten them? How do we get them to have pride in ones achievements?

Bmore on November 4, 2013 at 5:59 PM

Sorry I read the number incorrectly. 34.3%

Bmore on November 4, 2013 at 6:00 PM

37% of folks will never enjoy the pleasure of achieving anything for themselves. Wasted lives. Generation after generation wasted.

Bmore on November 4, 2013 at 5:57 PM

Very good point Bmore.

Murphy9 on November 4, 2013 at 6:01 PM

I don’t want a job. But I want good whiskey, fast internet, expensive golf clubs, and thick steaks.

To that end, I work.

Sgt Steve on November 4, 2013 at 6:21 PM

As a share of all those “not in the labor force,” the number of people who want a job has been generally declining since the early 1980s.

They’re not the 47%, but they are a subset of the 47%.

I wonder who they vote for? //sarc
They want their Obamaphones, high-speed internet, and big screen televisions (and food-stamps) paid for by other peoples money.

Eastwood Ravine on November 4, 2013 at 8:04 PM

The question is how to discourage these parasites from voting… If we can solve this problem we will win every elections…

Here in Virginia they are encouraging them to vote by offering free flu shots in the polling place which is located in the hood. Free flu vaccines for voters.

Christina_M on November 4, 2013 at 8:53 PM

I’m concerned about my job after this project that we’re starting is completed in 2015. I’ll admit that I’ve been looking at what I have in savings and my regular brokerage account, wondering if I have enough to live on until I can start withdrawing from my retirement account at age 59 1/2.

malclave on November 4, 2013 at 9:04 PM

With regard to charity, we need to bring back both shame and the concept of the “deserving” vs. the “undeserving” poor.

“Poverty” has become way too damn comfortable in this country.

Maddie on November 4, 2013 at 2:12 PM

The concept of “charity,” like the concept of “chivalry,” used to be a two-way street. Neither now means what they used to mean, sadly.

King B on November 4, 2013 at 9:16 PM

I wonder how skewed those numbers are? How many homemakers answered “No, I don’t want a job, I have one.”? How many were retirees? (And, no, I’m not going to go dig through the article for that.) I’m not saying the number isn’t terribly high, but that I wonder about the journalistic skills involved in the story.

GWB on November 4, 2013 at 1:54 PM

The BLS doesn’t break the broad “want a job now” down by age group, but they do break the worked-or-looked-the-last-4-week question down by age group. Since women reached essential parity with men in the 25-54 age group (the prime working age group) in the late 1980s (I’ll arbitraily say 1988), the labor force participation rate has held essentially steady between 82.8% and 84.1% as an annual average between then and 2008. That has faded every year since then, down to 81.4% in 2012. Worse, the first 9 months have had a LFPR averaging 0.4 points lower than the same months in 2012.

Meanwhile the LFPR amongst the senior citizens are at or near historical highs.

Steve Eggleston on November 4, 2013 at 9:40 PM

Let ‘em starve.

2 Thessalonians 3:10 ESV

For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.

If we as a nation would stop subsidizing laziness (via welfare) we wouldn’t be having all these people not wanting to work. Their hunger would drive them to jobs (well, the mostly honest ones).

sadatoni on November 5, 2013 at 7:19 AM

My mother once worked -temporarily-in a state office. She interviewed a woman for an open position and, at the end, informed the woman that she was perfect for the job. The woman replied “Is that all? I make more on unemployment and welfare. I don’t want the job.”

My mother reported her, but I doubt it did any good. And this was 25 years ago. I cannot wait until the number of don’t want to work reaches 50.1%. That will be a sign that it’s time to leave.

Physics Geek on November 5, 2013 at 10:20 AM

The problem is that these days poor doesn’t mean what you think it should mean. It should be a painful and unpleasant experience, something people want to get out of… and not some sort of sick lotus-eater machine.

Ukiah on November 5, 2013 at 12:41 PM

I don’t want a job. But I want good whiskey, fast internet, expensive golf clubs, and thick steaks.

To that end, I work.

Sgt Steve on November 4, 2013 at 6:21 PM

Steve, you think they perpetually unemployed aren’t enjoying those things? That’s how twisted the entitlement system is these days.

Ukiah on November 5, 2013 at 12:44 PM

Isn’t this just a question of an aging population? The “Share of Americans over age 16″ who are over 70 has clearly gone way up in two decades.

Clark1 on November 5, 2013 at 1:01 PM