Sunday, March 24, 2013

High School Graduates are Doomed!

I'm thankful that I'm not fresh out of high school or college looking for a job today. I might not have ever survived this long. The middle-class in America was already coming to a peak about the time I was a senior in high school and when I got my first full-time job in 1973.

I was laid off when 8.7 million other Americans were laid off from 2007 to 2009 (the unemployment rate had peaked in October 2009); and an equitable share of highly skilled workers and college graduates were also laid off --- but only 5+ million jobs have been created since that time. That's not even how many high school and college graduates we've had since that time.

Still today, 12 million Americans are reported unemployed. Of those, 5.3 million still receive unemployment benefits. Including those working part-time (but want full-time jobs), the U-6 unemployment is 14.3% (not 7.7%). Now add the original 8.7 million people who were originally laid off and are who no longer counted anymore. It's dismal.

Of the 8.7 million who lost their jobs, most of them (minus those who either opted for an early Social Security retirement if they were old enough, or were eligible for disability) are still unemployed. Many may be working part-time, but all of them have already exhausted all their UI benefits. As I said, millions are no longer being counted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While college will increase your chances of finding work, it's not as guaranteed as it once was 40 years ago. And teenagers today with only a high school diploma will most likely have a life-time of menial and low-paying jobs to look forward to (if they get work at all). When I was 18 years old, my generation had more choices. We could either join the military or work in a union factory; and we could still make a decent living wage.

Not these days. What are your choices? Wal-Mart, McDonald's, Staples, Dominos Pizza, etc. If you're lucky, and have a college degree, you can work for the local government in a Democratic state (less layoffs than in a Republican-led state). Maybe if the economy picks up, you can work here in Las Vegas. Most of the casinos are union (bartenders, food servers, housekeeper, etc.) --- and they still offer healthcare and pension plans.

Back in my early days, if one chose to go back to school, college was not near as expensive as is it today. A part-time job could pay the tuition --- but not any more (unless you live with mom and dad). Or unless one comes from a well-to-do family (which most people don't). If not, you'll be burdened with college debt for years, if not decades --- unless of course, you're really smart, and win a scholarship.

Now high school and college graduates also have to compete with an ever growing number of foreign guestworkers, and those who are here on H-1B VISAs. The job market is saturated, especially for the better paying jobs; and corporations are still outsourcing for cheaper labor.

And if you're 18 years old, unless the rich kick in more money, you'll be burdened with a lifetime of debt to pay for Social Security and Medicare for retirees (for your parents and grand-parents).

As of 2011, some 55 million Americans received some form of Social Security benefits (retirement, death, disability). But again, unless the "cap" on Social Security is lifted on the wealthy, you won't have Social Security like your parents do after you've busted your ass for 50 long years at your low-paying and back-breaking job. Good luck if you ever want to retire --- or if the Republicans have their way, make you work until you're either 70 years old, or until you finally drop dead on the floor of Wal-Mart (although, that might be a relief).

I pity the younger generation --- the teenagers and young adults today. My generation got screwed by old fools in Congress, and now you're stuck for their policies that were made in their pursuit of greed and lust for power --- those who kowtowed to the interests of corporate lobbyists.

People in my age bracket, if they were laid off during the recession, only have about a 9% of ever finding work again, let alone find a job that pays a living wage. Young college graduates will fare better, but not like they once did when I was still in high school. The top 1% hires their friends and their kids for the better jobs --- as is usually the case, it's not what you know, but who you know. But college helps a lot.

Now we have a whole bunch of new fools in Congress, with old ideas and stale beliefs, who are trying to make things even worse --- for all of us. Good luck to you, you'll need it.

The median household income in the U.S. is $50,054 --- meaning 50% of all households earn this or less --- and 50% of all wage earners had an income of only $26,965 or less a year. Prices (as always) will keep going up, but wages have been stuck in neutral for the past 40 years, and might be for anther 40 years --- unless you Occupy Wall Street.

Over 315 million Americans live in 117.5 million "households".

My generation became dependent on two-income households. You and your friends might need to triple or quadruple that to pay your rent. Forget about a new car or a boat.

More people are forced to share now --- 41.2 million adults live in a household in which they were neither the householder, the householder's spouse nor the householder's cohabiting partner --- 30.1 percent of all adults resided in a shared household as of 2010.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 2010, for married couples with children, 67% of households had two working parents (but more than 80% of all households have two incomes or more).

14.9 million "households" -- or 13 percent -- received food stamps (SNAP). The last I checked, the official poverty rate was 15.0 percent with 46.2 million people living in poverty --- and with just as many individuals relying on food stamps.

And don't ever get sick or get hurt at work. Individuals with disabilities were less likely to be employed than individuals without disabilities. Individuals without disabilities were about three times more likely to be employed than individuals with disabilities. Overall, individuals with disabilities accounted for 9.4 million, or 6% of the 155.9 million civilian labor force.

And when you vote, always vote for a Democrat (preferably, a Progressive Democrat). The GOP is the party of very large corporations and the ultra-rich. (Even a "bad" Democrat is much better than a "good" Republican.)

Just a note: The acting Secretary of Labor Seth Harris says the SKILLS Act is the wrong way to approach workforce investment reform. Also, maybe you should learn to read and write Chinese...that might help.

And finally, if you're a high school drop out --- forgetaboutit! You might be better off robbing banks instead of bailing them out.


* Also published at the Daily Kos

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