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Who is Bearing the Load?

A tip of the hat to the entrepreneurs left in this country.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)

We often tout America as "the land of opportunity" but I started to wonder how many people truly work for a commercial business, be it large or small. You know, the real people responsible for the Gross Domestic Product, our exports, and our quality of life.

When you think about it, these are the people who support everyone else, not just in terms of the lion's share of taxes, but without them, there would be no need for government or anything else. Wanting to know the answer, I recently researched some statistics at the U.S. Census Bureau and was struck by the projected 2012 figure for the U.S. population which is now at 313 million people, more than double since I was born.

It's interesting how the Census Bureau assembles the population data every 10 years but you cannot help but wonder how accurate it is. After all, there is allegedly over 13 million illegal aliens in this country, and I do not believe they are included in the population total. Nonetheless, I began to wonder how the 313 million occupied their time and, consequently, I visited the web sites for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to see what I could find.

First, I wanted to know how many people worked for the government in one capacity or another, be it at the federal state of local level. Here is what I found:

Federal Government Employees - 4.4 million
State Government Employees - 5.3 million
Local Government Employees - 14.2 million
Government Employees Total - 23.2 million or 7.4 percent of the populace.

This struck me as a rather high number, but I was somewhat surprised to see there were more people employed at the local level than both the federal and state levels combined.

Next, I considered the number of people who were not working, either due to unemployment, retirement, disability, or stay-at-home spouses. Finding the number of unemployed was rather easy, finding retirees and disabilities was a little trickier, so I checked on statistics at the U.S. Social Security Administration. As to spouses, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics was helpful.

Unemployed - 13.7 million
Retired or receiving disability - 61.0 million
Families with one spouse working - 9.7 million
People not working - 84.4 million or 26.9 percent of the populace

Adding the 23.2 million government employees to the 84.4M "not working" comes to a total of 107.6 million or 34.3 percent of the populace.

When you subtract the 107.6 million people from the original 313 million number from the U.S. Census Bureau, you arrive at a number of 205.4 million people working for private enterprises or 65.6 percent of the populace. This isn't quite accurate as there are also millions of people working for 501(c) corporations, such as charities, churches, and other non-profit institutions. Of course, there are also those involved with criminal activities, either actively or imprisoned, which the Census Bureau would have trouble keeping track of. Suffice it to say, there is at least 50% of the populace working for a commercial business and is shouldering the tax load for the rest of the country, including the 13 million illegal aliens.

I wonder how this number compares to years past? I can't help but believe the percentage of people working in business was higher back in the 1950s when business was booming following the end of World War II, and government was smaller. Since then, federal spending has doubled, as has the federal debt and deficit which have skyrocketed. Regardless, the shrinking rate of people in business also signals a decline in entrepreneurship in this country which should be of concern to all of us as this represents the innovators, inventors, and captains of industry who have traditionally invigorated this country. Without them, the nation would likely become nothing more than a third class country.

No wonder people are getting mad. Like me, they've added up the numbers and don't like what they see; one half of the country is giving, and the other half is taking and not paying taxes. I wonder what will happen when the balance tips from giving to taking?

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Bill Turnbull March 20, 2012 at 12:56 PM
Did you include those under 18 not working? That would make your numbers look worse. It does not seem that you have the data to backup your closing remark. You're angry about what you are assuming. Was government really smaller in the 1950's? BTW, I have worked in private enterprise my entire career but am happy that we have the school teachers, police and fireman that probably (yes I'm assuming) make up the largest percentage of the local government employees.
John Dolac March 22, 2012 at 12:23 AM
Enjoyed this one. Good points that more need to heed.
Torrey Craig March 22, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Using the U.S. Census Bureau information on Pinellas Co (http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=bkmk) we find that the population over age 16 is 772,764. Of that 462,268 people are in the total civilian labor force and 309,231 are not in the labor force. What is shown is that of the employed population a total of 16,532 people are employed in public administration or 3.9 % of the total working population. Our population here is skewed due to the higher percentages of retired people living here.
rick barasso March 23, 2012 at 01:01 AM
Definition of ENTREPRENEUR : one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise Tim would have us believe that he was the brave one, who took a gamble and started a business. When it would appear that Timmy's dad was the one that was an inovator in the industry. He was the one that took the risks, started the business and then "gave" Timmy a job. Unfortunately Tim, not everyone has a father that gives them a career.
John Dolac March 23, 2012 at 01:46 AM
Once you own the business you assume all the risks. In today's environment, you have innovate to keep your business going. While the risks may be greatest when a business is just beginning, there is still plenty of risk in keeping it going.
rick barasso March 23, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Very true JD It appears, sometimes Tim forgets to give credit were credit is due. For example, check his bio to see who wrote "his" book. Then see who really wrote "his" book. In other words, sometimes you're a giver and sometimes you're a taker. Wouldn't you agree? Tim needs to be reminded of these things sometimes.

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