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April 21 2017

Employment Characteristics of American Families: Twenty Percent Have Nobody in the Workforce

by Charlotte Hays

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has just released a report entitled "Employment Characteristics of Families," and one characteristic in particular stands out as extremely alarming: not a single member of the family is employed in twenty percent of U.S. families.

The Washington Free Beacon boils down the report this way:

No family member was employed in 16,069,000 U.S. families in 2016, or 19.6 percent of families, according to newly released data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The number of families with nobody employed increased by roughly 19,000 from 2015 to 2016, although the percentage slightly declined from 19.7 percent to 19.6 percent.

For the purpose of the study, the bureau counts a family as households headed by a married couple or by unmarried women or men. The definition includes households with children under 18 years old and households without children. There were 82,092,000 families in the United States in 2016, according to the bureau.

Alfredo Ortiz, president and CEO of the nonpartisan Job Creators Network, has some observations on the situation:

"The fact that 20 percent of families don’t have anyone working demonstrates that the labor market still has weaknesses," Ortiz said. "But the problem isn’t the number of available jobs."

"There are currently 5.7 million job openings, millions of which pay roughly $50,000 or more per year," he said. "Policymakers need to address the skills gap that is preventing these unemployed families from seizing these available good jobs."

"That means expanding vocational training and protecting entry-level jobs that provide the skills necessary to get good jobs," Ortiz said. "It means a fight for $50,000 careers, not $15 jobs."

It is crucial to have entry level jobs in which people new to the workforce can acquire the experience and habits to land better jobs.

I can't help but notice that this report comes out on the heels of another report that finds the hike in the minimum wage is causing San Francisco restaurants, which provide entry level jobs, to close their doors.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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