Labor Dept. Data: Only 1.75 Full-Time Private Sector Workers Per Social Security Recipient

September 12, 2011 - 3:48 PM
Obama jobs speech

President Obama greets guests after he delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(CNSNews.com) - There were only 1.75 full-time private-sector workers in the United States last year for each person receiving benefits from Social Security, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Social Security board of trustees

That means that for each husband and wife who worked full-time in the private sector last year there was a Social Security recipient somewhere in the country taking benefits from the federal government.

Most state and local workers are part of the Social Security system and pay Social Security taxes; and, since 1984, all federal workers have been part of the system and pay Social Security taxes. However, unlike private sector workers who pay Social Security taxes with private-sector dollars, government workers pay their payroll taxes out of wages government pays them with tax dollars or with money that was borrowed by government and taxpayers must eventually repay.

In its latest annual report, the Social Security board of trustees reported that the federal government’s total revenue from Social Security taxes in 2010—$544.8 billion—was not enough to cover Social Security’s total benefit payments—$577.4 billion.

The board of trustees also reported that there were 156.725 million “covered workers” in the United States who paid some Social Security taxes during 2010. But these 156.725 million “covered workers” included all workers—including government workers—who were “paid at some time during the year for employment” on which Social Security taxes were due. People who worked full-time for 52 weeks during the year were included with people who worked only part-time for a month.

The Social Security board of trustees reported that there were 53.398 million Social Security beneficiaries in 2010.

That meant, as the Social Security board of trustees reported, that there were just 2.9 “covered workers” who paid some Social Security taxes in 2010 for each individual who received Social Security benefits.

(According to the Social Security board of trustees, there were 41.9 "covered workers" per Social Security beneficiary in 1945.) 

However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has generated data indicating how many full-time workers there were in the country in 2010 and how many of these worked in government as opposed to the private sector.

According to BLS, there were 111.714 million full-time workers in the United States last year. Of these, 18.073 million worked for local, state or federal government, and 93.641 million worked in the private sector.

The 93.641 million full-time private sector workers last year worked out to 1.75 for each person receiving Social Security benefits.

These 93.641 million full-time private sector workers were the foundation of the tax base that supported both government at large and Social Security in particular.

Prior to 1983, states and localities could legally opt their employees out of the Social Security system. In 1981, for example, the employees of Galveston County, Texas, voted 78 percent to 22 percent to opt out of the Social Security system for a locally run retirement plan. Brazoria and Matagorda counties in Texas also opted out of Social Security.