America’s economic decline: 23% of all 23-54 year old workers unemployed

Imagine a family farm, which is run by two older patriarchs and the families of their offspring.  Now picture that the total amount of potential workers living on that farm is 6 out of a total of 10 people living there, with two being the elder parents, four being their two children and their wives, and the other four being grandchildren too young to account for much in labor.

Now imagine that one of the four adult children is unable to be employed because the patriarchs can’t afford to pay for their labor.  And added to this is the fact that the two ultimate parents have limited capacity to work and are available only part time.

This is a microcosm of the American labor system today.  And this example is validated by a new report out that shows that nearly one fourth (23%) of all able bodies Americans between the ages of 23-54 are unemployed, and offering little in the way of production for the overall U.S. economy during the prime capacity of their working lives.

Did you know that when you take the number of working age Americans that are officially unemployed (8.2 million) and add that number to the number of working age Americans that are considered to be “not in the labor force” (94.3 million), that gives us a grand total of 102.5 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now?  I have written about this before, but today I want to focus just on Americans that are in their prime working years.  When you look at only Americans that are from age 25 to age 54, 23.2 percent of them are unemployed right now.  The following analysis and chart come from the Weekly Standard

Here’s a chart showing those in that age group currently employed (95.6 million) and those who aren’t (28.9 million):

Americans In Their Prime Working Years Not Working

“There are 124.5 million Americans in their prime working years (ages 25–54). Nearly one-quarter of this group—28.9 million people, or 23.2 percent of the total—is not currently employed. They either became so discouraged that they left the labor force entirely, or they are in the labor force but unemployed.This group of non-employed individuals is more than 3.5 million larger than before the recession began in 2007,” writes the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee. – The Economic Collapse Blog

If we carry on the analogy we made about the family farm representing the U.S. economy, now picture that for the two older part time adults, and the one adult in their prime, they only provide one-third of total potential labor.  And this means that the government must subsidize three of the six workers in some capacity through unemployment, social security, or alternative welfare benefits that come out of the pockets of other farm workers (business labor), which will ultimately limit the amount of revenues that could be generated to create capital growth, and which could expand and create even more jobs or businesses.

When a nation’s best, brightest, and most able to left out of economic production, it is eerily similar to a country who experiences declining birth rates, and their inability to use those resources to spark innovation, productivity, and economic growth.  And in the U.S. since the crash of 2008, and the subsequent Great Recession which America has never recovered from, an entire generation of workers are very close to being lost, and the future of America’s role in the global economy is becoming very much in doubt.

Kenneth Schortgen Jr is a writer for,, and To the Death Media, and hosts the popular web blog, The Daily Economist. Ken can also be heard Wednesday afternoons giving an weekly economic report on the Angel Clark radio show.