Originally posted by Eladar
I suppose anyone who is too discouraged to look for work could be called retired.
What proportion of US households would you think could reasonably retire on age grounds, bearing in mind the demographic profile of the population? I assume not zero?
Obviously those below reasonable retirement age who can live entirely on inherited or otherwise unearned income, including rent in all its forms and interest in all it variety, would not count in your world.
The 19.7 percent of families in which no one was employed means they could have either been unemployed or not in the labor force (for example, married retirees).
Additionally, in any advanced economy there is a level of unemployment reflecting changes in the market such as factory closures and the like. To a degree this is a measure of economic change taking place and a majority of those unemployed at one time can be expected to return to employment at some point. If for example a well paid engineer is made redundant, then their first port of call will not be to sign on at their local McDonald's for a zero hours low paid deal, but rather they will use their own networks to explore new opportunities, possible moving to a different town and even different state / country. In later years - certainly after fifty, well educated and experienced people who are made redundant are often locked out of decent employment opportunities and may accept effective retirement at a premature age if they have the resources.
Unemployment is built into any functioning economy and does not indicate idleness on the part of individuals, but rather on the part of employers. Factory closures, downsizing of large organisations, slashing of public services (operated of course by paid employees) all take work out of the economy and cannot be blamed on idleness, but rather on the way the economy is managed and operated by those few people in positions of real economic power.
The people you hate, the very poor with least prospects, are frequently working very hard indeed with minimal reward, just to get by at a lousy level of subsistence. The sick attidude which blames the poor for their own deprivation takes added edge in the USA from the excessive proportion of Black people living in poverty and dependent on the least rewarding employent opportunities.
When you filter out of all this the small proportion of people who have lost all motivation, if they ever had any, you will have come to a bottom-of-the-barrel residue that is not necessarily larger than the proportion of the idle rich, but which costs the government and the economy vastly more. If you resent freebooters, attack the rich.