No One Works in Nearly 20% of US Families

Tuesday, April 28, 2015
By Paul Martin

In 2014, around one out of five American families had no members employed, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

There were 80,889,000 families living in the United States in 2014, and of those, 19.9% had no working members. The number is slightly lower than that of the previous year, when a fifth of American families, at 20%, had no working members.

The BLS defines a family as “a group of two or more persons residing together who are related by birth, marriage, or adoption.” This includes single-parent families as well. A person is characterized as employed if he or she “(a) did any work at all as [a] paid employee; (b) worked in their own business, profession, or on their own farm; (c) or worked 15 hours or more as [an] unpaid worker in an enterprise operated by a member of the family.”

Broken down by race, African-Americans have the largest percentage (24.3%) of families in which no members are employed. White American families are a close second, at 19.9%, although they vastly outnumber their African-American counterparts. The lowest proportion of unemployment is among Asian American families, at 11.6%.

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