The condition of being unemployed and having little or no prospect for employment. workless, adj.
My question about the meaning of the new buzzword 'worklessness', which is replacing the more traditional 'unemployment' in council documents produced a spirited response from Labour cabinet member Stewart Stacey.
Unemployment, he said, could be translated as 'I haven't got a job this week.'
Worklessness, meanwhile, could be defined as 'I never expect to have a job, no one in my family has had a job for two generations, so why should I bother'.
—Paul Dale, "The iron angle," Birmingham Post, May 25, 2002
Forget unemployment, the big challenge in deprived neighbourhoods is worklessness. There's a big difference. Unemployment is a temporary phenomenon: you may lose your job or fail to get one, but you're still actively part of the labour market. . . . Workless people, however, are out of the labour market completely.
—Rachel Spence, "Neighbourhood renewal," The Independent, January 23, 2002
This term has been a clumsy synonym for unemployment since at least the 1880s. Now pushed by the bureaucrats in Britain's Labour government this new sense of the word has appeared and is angling to replace more cumbersome constructions such as chronic unemployment, persistent unemployment, and non-employment.