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Almost 20% of American families were jobless in 2017

[DENVER] Prosperity did little to eradicate chronic joblessness last year, based on one measure of the US labor market.

During a survey reference week last year, almost 20 per cent of American families had no one bringing home a paycheck - even with the unemployment rate finishing the year at a 17-year low, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The data tracked people who were unemployed, available for work at the time of the government's survey and had recently attempted to find a job.

The number of families classified as having no member employed totaled 16 million last year, or 19.5 per cent of all families, versus 16.1 million in 2016, or 19.6 per cent.

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The trend was most notable among families led by a woman, or 23.2 per cent of that category, little changed from the prior year. Similar data show the category for men was at 15.4 per cent, down from 16.4 per cent in 2016.

The national unemployment rate dropped last year to 4.1 per cent in December from 4.8 per cent in January of the same year.