Saturday, September 27, 2014

Poll: Why has the Labor Force Declined?

What group of people are primarily responsible for the decline in the U.S. labor force since the beginning of the new century? Is it those who have offshored jobs to factories overseas over the past 15 to 25 years, or is it those who once worked in U.S. factories for the last 30 or 40 years before going on disability or retiring?

Or is it the politician's fault for making bad trade deals for American workers that mostly benefited large corporations; or it because older workers became lazy and wanted to go on the government dole (to take home an income that is less than half of what they had previously earned?)

Or is it because American workers developed poor work habits and shabby characters — and we saw a dramatic increase in lazy people (of all ages and backgrounds) who just preferred to take home less than what a minimum wage job would offer if they didn't have to work at all?

Or is mostly because the job creators (who have been doing more with less by using current technology in an over-saturated workforce with stagnant wages) who have been exploiting a desperate work force by using more "independent contractors", hiring more temp workers, and by creating more part-time jobs with no fringe benefits at all?

Or is it mostly older workers, those who have decided to slither off into early retirements, or maybe because they became obsolete and no longer possessed the skills that are necessary to move boxes, sweep floors, flip burgers, drive a truck, greet a shopper or type on a computer?

Or is it because high school and college graduates now expect too much these days, and want it all right away, without ever having to work their way up the ladder by taking menial low-paying jobs, no matter how much they spent (or are in debt) on a college tuition?

What group of people are primarily responsible for the decline in the U.S. labor force since the beginning of the new century? But before you take my poll, let's first look at the number of retirees, graduates, the unemployed, those not in the labor force, those who want jobs, and the number of disabled workers that we've had since the end of the recession to the present:

The National Center for Education Statistics shows that we've had over 16 million high school graduates from 2009 to 2014 *

During that same exact period of time, the Social Security Administration shows we've had an additional 5.7 million retirees (as many as 1.4 million of whom may have been forced into early retirements because they couldn't find jobs). And we've also an additional 1.4 million disabled workers in payment status for benefits.

* As an aside: From the National Center for Education Statistics:

During the 2014–15 school year, colleges and universities are expected to award:

1.0 million associate’s degrees
1.8 million bachelor's degrees
821,000 master's degrees
177,500 doctor's degrees
3.8 million total degrees

In 2011–12, postsecondary institutions awarded:

1.0 million certificates below associate’s degree
1.0 million associate’s degrees
1.8 million bachelor’s degrees
754,000 master’s degrees
170,100 doctor’s degrees
4.7 million total degrees

Remember: Over the past 5 years, we've only had an additional 1.4 million disabled workers — but during that same exact period of time, we've also had over 11 million additional working-age people who are "not in the labor force" — many, who are most likely "discouraged workers" who gave up looking for non-existent jobs and are no longer counted as "unemployed".

Also, there are currently over 6.3 million working-age Americans not counted in the unemployment rate (and who are "not in the labor force") but also want a job — and many are disabled or retired (but most likely because they're over 50, employers wouldn't hire them.)

And we still have 9.6 million people who are still in the labor force and are still counted as "unemployed" and supposedly still want a job. Some will only get 12 weeks of unemployment benefits, some will get as many as 26 weeks (the maximum now) — depending on which state they live. But most will become "long-term unemployed" after 26 weeks before eventually being classified as "discouraged workers" — and then they will no longer be counted as part of the labor force either.

But yet, over the past 5 years, we've only had an additional 1.4 million disabled workers. So why does the media, economists, the Fed, the CBO, the GAO and the politicians, all keep saying:

"We have a record number of people — millions — going on disability when their unemployment benefits run out because they won't take a minimum wage job (or two jobs). They would rather be on the government dole. It is they and older workers who are driving down the labor force participation rate. It is they who left the labor force."

Even though there aren't even enough jobs for millions of other perfectly healthy "prime-age" young people who are just graduating from school, and who are also NOT in the labor force. Why are disabled workers and older workers getting a bad rap? Are they the ones who mostly contributed to the slack in the labor market? Please take my poll...

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