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No One Works in Nearly 20% of US Families: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

© AP Photo / J Pat CarterA man tries to collect money for his family on a Miami street corner, two months after losing his job.
A man tries to collect money for his family on a Miami street corner, two months after losing his job. - Sputnik International
In 2014, around one out of five American families had no members employed, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

There were 80,889,000 families living in the United States in 2014, and of those, 19.9% had no working members. The number is slightly lower than that of the previous year, when a fifth of American families, at 20%, had no working members.

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The BLS defines a family as "a group of two or more persons residing together who are related by birth, marriage, or adoption." This includes single-parent families as well. A person is characterized as employed if he or she "(a) did any work at all as [a] paid employee; (b) worked in their own business, profession, or on their own farm; (c) or worked 15 hours or more as [an] unpaid worker in an enterprise operated by a member of the family."

Broken down by race, African-Americans have the largest percentage (24.3%) of families in which no members are employed.  White American families are a close second, at 19.9%, although they vastly outnumber their African-American counterparts. The lowest proportion of unemployment is among Asian American families, at 11.6%.

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The BLS bases its family employment data on annual average data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, and has been tracking employment in families since 1995. In its first report, 18.8% of American families had no employed members. The ratio hit an all-time high when, in 2011, it reached 20.2%. It went down by.02% the following year, and held steady through to the end of 2013, before it declined to the current 19.9% in 2014.

Other improvements revealed in the data include a decline in families that had one unemployed member. In 2013, this was at 9.6%, but by 2014, it went down by almost a full two percentage points to 8%. During the same period, 80.1% of American families also had at least one employed member.

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