U.S. Census Bureau: 79 Million Not Working; Here's Why

According to the U.S. Census Bureau's national Survey of Income and Program Participation, an estimated 227 million people 15 years and older resided in the United States in the first quarter of 2004. Of those, nearly 79 million (35 percent) had not worked at a paid job for at least four consecutive months prior to the survey. Retirement (38 percent) and school attendance (19 percent) were the most commonly reported reasons. Chronic illness or disability was the main reason for almost one in seven non-workers (15 percent). Taking care of children or others accounted for 13 percent. Around six percent cited an economic reason for not working--about two percent were on layoff, and four percent were unable to find work. Approximately two percent reported a temporary injury or illness as the main cause for being out of work. The remaining seven percent either were not interested in working or reported an "other" reason.

Among the other highlights of the survey:

  • Men non-workers were more likely than women non-workers to be retired or going to school.
  • Adults with at most a high school diploma were more likely than those with at least some college education not to work because of a chronic illness or disability.
  • Among never-married non-workers, the most common reasons for not working were school attendance and chronic illness or disability.
  • Roughly one out of four non-workers (26 percent) 20 to 64 years old were not covered by health insurance.
  • Nearly 10 percent of non-workers received federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, compared with three percent of the total population 20 to 64 years old.

For more information, visit http://www.sipp.census.gov/sipp/.

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