No One Works in 1 in 5 U.S. Families

In 2015, there were 16,060,000 families with no member employed

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There were one in five families in the United States in 2015, or 19.7 percent, in which no one in the family worked, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"Families are classified either as married-couple families or as families maintained by women or men without spouses present," explains the bureau. "Families include those without children as well as those with children under age 18."

There were 81,410,000 families in the United States in 2015. Of those, there were 16,060,000 families in which no member was employed, or 19.7 percent of the total.

The number has remained relatively steady since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking this data since 1995.

That year, the percent of families in which no one had a job was 18.8 percent. The percentage hit an all-time high of 20.2 percent in 2011. It held steady at 20 percent in 2012 and 2013. In 2014, it declined to 19.9 percent and in 2015 it declined again to 19.7 percent.

According to the bureau, an individual is counted as employed if they did any work at all in the survey reference week as paid employees, worked in their own business, profession or on their own farm, or worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in an enterprise operated by a member of the family.

 The 19.7 percent of families in which no one was employed means they could have either been unemployed or not in the labor force (for example, married retirees).

According to the bureau, an individual is unemployed if they did not have a job but actively sought one in the past four weeks. An individual is classified as not in the labor force if they did not have a job and did not actively seek one in the past four weeks.

"In 2015, about two-thirds (68.2 percent) of families with an unemployed member also had at least one family member who was employed, and 58.8. percent had at least one family member who was employed full time," the bureau explains.

10.7 percent of families with children under 18 years saw neither parent employed.

"Among families with children, 89.3 percent had at least one employed parent in 2015," the bureau states. "Among married-couple families with children, 96.7 percent had at least one employed parent; both parents worked in 60.6 percent of married-couple families."

Ali Meyer

Ali Meyer   Email Ali | Full Bio | RSS
Ali Meyer is a staff writer with the Washington Free Beacon covering economic issues that expose government waste, fraud, and abuse. Prior to the Free Beacon, she was a multimedia reporter with CNSNews.com where her work appeared on outlets such as Drudge Report and Fox News. She also interned with the Heritage Foundation and Pacific Research Institute. Her Twitter handle is @DJAliMeyer, and her email address is meyer@freebeacon.com.