The White House Claim That 1 in 4 Americans in Prime Working Age Aren’t Employed

In Economy, LABOR -- articles only, Misleading Information On

“The number of people living in the United States in the working ages who aren’t working today is at a record high. One in four Americans — or almost one in four Americans between the ages of 25 and 54 aren’t even employed.”
— Stephen Miller, senior policy adviser, White House briefing, Aug. 2, 2017

A reader asked about this statement by Miller, made while touting a plan to reduce legal immigration. Are 1 in 4 Americans of prime working age not even employed?

This is a great example of a fact devoid of context or meaning. Let’s explain.

The Facts

The data indeed shows almost 1 in 4 Americans in prime working age are not employed, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most (89 percent) of these people do not want jobs in the first place. Most, in fact, are women taking care of loved ones. If you go back to the mid-1970s (or earlier), the figures were even worse because more women were not in the workforce.

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