Friday, January 4, 2013

We Did NOT Drop Out of the Labor Force

I just read an article that said some "4.8 million people are long-term unemployed; and millions of others are not counted as they have dropped out of the labor force altogether."

People don't "drop out" of the labor force or stop looking for work unless they take an early Social Security retirement at 62, or they become disabled. 

Once their unemployment benefits run out, they can't just live on NOTHING, so they don't stop looking for work. They don't prefer to struggle to live on much less (such as with TANF and/or food stamps), not if they have an opportunity to work, and especially if they can make an honest "living wage".

It was reported that 8.5 million Americans lost jobs from 2007 to October of 2009 during the Great Recession when the unemployment rate had peaked -- when over 15 million people were unemployed and the unemployment rate was at 10.2%.

Since October of 2009, even with 5 million NET new jobs created, that wouldn't have created enough jobs for all the high school and college graduates since that time (about 6 million), let alone rehire the 8.5 million who lost jobs -- or include the previous 7 million people who were already out of work before the recession hit.

So, besides those who were old enough to get a Social Security retirement or a disability check, and the lucky few of the older workers who managed to find work again (without being laid off a second or third time), these people in the media that say we "dropped out of the labor force" are all just plain wrong.

There is no government agency to report to when our unemployment benefits run out. We don't log in to our computers and say, "Here I am, I'm still looking for work!" No, instead we are swept under the rug and classified by the government as "discouraged workers" --- and that's why the labor "participation rate" is much lower now -- but yet, the unemployment rate still goes down.

The Republicans and their constituents call us "lazy" and say that we don't look for jobs. But 15 million unemployed people scattered throughout the country competing for 3 million available jobs scattered throughout the country doesn't make for good math for those that would rather call us names. They think a square peg fits into a round hole.

A great many of the jobs that were created were temp jobs, census jobs, summer jobs at McDonalds or temporary retail jobs at Wal-Mart for the holidays...most, low-paying jobs and nothing to brag about.

And many of the new jobs went to those in the "guest worker" program, driving down wages even more because they're cheaper to hire.

And young Americans with a college education are getting the government jobs and other jobs that high school grads were once capable of landing. These days, if you only have a GED you are SOL. The high-paying manufacturing jobs they once qualified for went to Chinese labor camps.

Millions of unemployed Americans didn't voluntarily leave the labor force, they were forced out. Older workers weren't hired for age discrimination. The long-term unemployed aren't hired for discrimination as well. And prior experience, maturity, and long work histories are no longer held in high regard.

But we are "discouraged workers" -- discouraged with being labeled by those who never walked in our shoes. Discouraged for never being re-hired again. Discouraged for losing our life's savings, our homes, our cars, our possessions and our self-esteem.

Discouraged, because idiots still think there are PLENTY of jobs to be had, and think we're lazy and aren't looking for work.

Discouraged, because the government (and the media) keeps saying we "dropped out of the labor force", and so therefore, shouldn't be counted any more.

Guess what, we might be "discouraged workers", but we didn't drop out of the labor force...we're still here, and we're still unemployed, and we DO count.

1 comment:

  1. I had to take early Soc Security at 62, not because I wanted to but because I needed the money. After three yrs of searching for a full-time job that paid more than minimum wage, I threw in the towel. But I am still in the market for a decent part-time professional job not that I am not in panic mode, so am I still considered among those who have dropped out?????