Monday, August 27, 2012

Old People Need Not Apply

According to the Labor Department, from January 2009 through December 2011, 6.1 million workers were displaced from jobs they had held for at least 3 years. In January 2012, 56 percent of workers displaced from 2009-11 were re-employed (but it's mostly younger workers).

Last week, Mitt Romney declared that with his one-page economic plan, the country would add “12 million new jobs by the end of his first term.”

But in its semi-annual long-term economic forecast released last April, Macroeconomic Advisers projected that the economy would add 11.8 million jobs from 2012 to 2016.

Moody’s Analytics, another forecasting firm, projects similar job growth. Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, emphasized that he actually expects the economy to remain on the same path, regardless of who is elected.

The Congressional Budget Office’s latest long-term economic forecast, released last January, showed that employment would grow by 10 million from the first quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2017, the dates of the next presidential term. The CBO’s jobs numbers would probably look stronger if they assumed Congress does not allow taxes to go up on the middle-class after the Bush tax cuts expire in January 2013.

And consider this: Mitt Romney, in his stump speeches on the campaign trail, has blamed President Obama for all our low-paying jobs, even though it was his time at Bain Capital that was all about down-sizing and outsourcing jobs. (Does the pot call the kettle black?) One of Mitt Romney's most boasted accomplishments was Staples, which is nothing but a mass of low-paying jobs.

Pew Research says that since the beginning of George W. Bush's administration, the middle class has shrunk in size, and has fallen backward in both income and wealth. During that time 52,000 factories fled our shores, costing the U.S. over 8 million jobs during that time.

But young people still have a chance. It's the older ones that have to worry (especially if Romney and Ryan are elected in November).

Americans nearing retirement age have suffered disproportionately after the financial crisis: along with the declining value of their homes, which were intended to cushion their final years, their incomes have fallen sharply. The typical household income for people age 55 to 64 years old is almost 10 percent less in today’s dollars than it was when the recovery officially began three years ago, according to a new report from Sentier Research.

Across the country, in almost every demographic, Americans earn less today than they did in June 2009, when the recovery technically started. As of June of this year, the "median household income" for all Americans was $50,964, or 4.8 percent lower than its level three years earlier. (That's $25,482 per person in earnings, since most households now have two incomes --- 50% of all Americans earn less than $26,000 a year; the poverty threshold for a family of four is $ 22,000.

Sustained unemployment among older workers may be partly to blame for this decline. Once older workers lose their jobs, they have an unusually hard time finding re-employment. And even when they do find new work, they usually have to take a pay cut.

Single unemployed people have since gained back 90% of the jobs, according to the Labor Department. Whereas married people, who make up a slightly larger part of the adult population, have only recouped about 22%. People under age 35 have been gaining far more jobs than those over 35.

Younger workers are more likely to be single than those over 35; and younger people had been much more likely to experience unemployment, but they've also been returning to work far much quicker.

Single people are more likely to take low wage positions because they are able to --- they don't have ties to mortgages, and can move to a new location in order to take a job.

Among workers near retirement — ages 55 to 64 — few found re-employment. And nearly a quarter were no longer counted as part of the labor force. Some, who qualified, went on disability.

Those 65 or older were even more likely to "drop out" of the labor force (the "unemployable", because of age), and about half did so. Although, people in that demographic have a relatively easier time getting by without a job because they can receive their full Social Security benefits and pensions at 65. Many others were financially desperate and were forced to take less benefits at age 62.

The GOP wants to raise the full retirement age to 70...which is bad if someone breaks their back every day for 50 years at a very labor intensive job. (Some people with cozy desk jobs, like members of Congress, can retire at 55.)

There's been legislation for age discrimination on the books for many years, but under the Civil Rights Act, there's a loophole regarding "bona fide occupational qualifications" which allows employers to skirt the law.

So many older workers are forced to take low-wage jobs like greeters at Wal-Mart (America's largest private sector employer), earning a poultry salary with no healthcare benefits.

Minimum wage workers today (in today's dollars) are taking home almost $7,000 less over the course of a year than minimum wage workers took home in 1968.

The 50 largest employers of low-wage workers are in strong financial positions, and their top executive compensation averaged $9.4 million last year --- and they have returned $174.8 billion to shareholders in dividends or share buybacks over the past five years.

The Waltons of Wal-Mart have a combined net worth of over $100 billion (not counting the money they hide). How do you think they became, so rich? Paying slave wages (for the same reason why jobs are outsourced.)

Read: $1 Trillion a Year in Personal Income is not Taxed at all for Social Security and Medicare

An Informative Report From Pew Research: The Lost Decade of the Middle Class

My newest video: "Mitt Romney's Money"

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