This is a meme constantly pushed by the Right, Sean Hannity, Joie Walsh, the Heritage Foundation and Trump’s economic advisor(run! hide!) Stephen Moore. Here are the numbers…
Do the math. the current population of the US is around 315 million. 27%, or roughly 100 million are under 21, so not a measurable part of the unemployment rate(School, in diapers, too pressed by their third grade math homework preventing them from taking extra shifts at the coal mine, etc.). These are all US Census or Bureau of labor Statistics, as well as ADP numbers, by the way. Anyway, that leaves us with 215 million to work with.
14.5% or 43.5 million are over 65. Count them out, mostly. As of September the BLS and ADP, with other corporate payroll and employment reporting groups put the current US workforce at between 143 and a peak of 145 million in June of this year. Now we get down into the weeds. 43 million are collecting welfare or food stamps. Adding those last three numbers, however, gives us more than the remaining 215 million, and closer to 230 million. How can that be? My math must be off. Nope. It’s right on the money.
Welfare, employment and poverty numbers overlap, sadly, to a shocking degree, thanks to lax corporate oversight and tax laws. That means many working Americans still cannot make ends meet in the current predatory economy. I have known and interviewed a number of working people whose pay necessitated they apply for assistance or starve, like my good friend Darren Marshall, who is now doing much better. Darren works full time. He is very good at his job, but a combination of low wages and high cost of living in Chicago gave him a choice between food and rent; starvation and homelessness. Conservative Forbes Magazine reported that thousands of Walmart workers needed public assistance to survive because their pay was so low below poverty level, costing you, the taxpayer $6.2 billion, when they could have raised average costs across their millions of products on average a nickel and paid workers and alleviated the US taxpayer.
So where does 90 million Americans not working come from? First, it is a talking point as part of the Rightwing Republican assault against Barack Obama. Likely its an aggregate of those 16 and up, young people who can work legally, along with retired Americans and people on public assistance, many of whom are working, and many of those who are mentally or physically handicapped, or retired. Please don’t be lazy and just listen to Sean Hannity or the Heritage Foundation bullshit. Do the math.