This is the era of impossibly large numbers we can’t even comprehend when it comes to our nation’s debt. Another area of confusion is the unemployment situation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics compiles a monthly Employment Situation Summary which gives us the official unemployment number for the nation. It also includes various other statistics, one of which is found in Household Data, Summary Table A. For the month of January, 2012, the number “Not in labor force” is one of those astonishing numbers that’s hard to comprehend. It’s 87,874. Which translated means 87,874,000 million people of working age are no longer even looking for work for various reasons.
Just to clarify, what exactly qualifies as “Not in labor force”? From the BLS, here is the official definition.
Includes persons aged 16 years and older in the civilian noninstitutional population who are neither employed nor unemployed in accordance with the definitions contained in this glossary. Information is collected on their desire for and availability for work, job search activity in the prior year, and reasons for not currently searching
So, you must be of working age, not in prison, not working nor even looking for work.
In an effort to try to get a better perspective of just how large a number this is, I thought I would compare it to something one could visualize easier. That is state populations. Our army of people “Not in the labor force” would exceed the population total of 32 states! Yes, you read that correctly. Here they are based upon 2010 U.S. Census numbers, the latest available.
Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Maine, Idaho, Nebraska, West Virginia, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, Iowa, Connecticut, Oregon, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Kentucky, Colorado, Alabama, Louisiana, Minnesota, Arizona and Maryland.
The population of all of those states combined is 86,817,688 based upon 2010 census numbers. And the economy is getting better?