Monday, December 15, 2014

Vanishing American Workers

New York Times: The Vanishing Male Worker (by Binyamin Appelbaum on December 11, 2014) -- From a New York Times/CBS News/Kaiser Family Foundation poll of 30 million Americans 25 to 54 who are without jobs: 44 percent of men in the survey said there were jobs in their area they could get, but were not willing to take (because they pay so low). Mr. Katz, a Harvard economist, said that some men might choose to describe themselves as unwilling to take low-wage jobs when in fact they cannot find any jobs at all. There are about 10 million prime-age men (25 to 54) who are not working, but there are only 4.8 million job openings for men and women of all ages. The decline of the work force is divisible into three related trends:

— 1) Young men are spending more years in school, delaying their entry into the work force.
— 2) At the other end of the 25-to-54 spectrum, many older men who lost jobs have fallen back on disability benefits or started to draw on retirement savings. [Editor's Note: Binyamin Appelbaum always takes pot shots at disabled workers.]
— 3) In the third group are men too young to retire but often ill-equipped to find new work.

New York Times: Why U.S. Women Are Leaving Jobs Behind (By Claire Cain Miller and Liz Alderman on December. 12, 2014) -- As recently as 1990, the United States had one of the top employment rates in the world for women, but it has now fallen behind many European countries. After climbing for six decades, the percentage of women in the American work force peaked in 1999, at 74 percent for women between 25 and 54. It has fallen since, to 69 percent today. In many other countries, however, the percentage of working women has continued to climb. Switzerland, Australia, Germany and France now outrank the United States in prime-age women’s labor force participation, as do Canada and Japan ... In a New York Times/CBS News/Kaiser Family Foundation poll of nonworking adults aged 25 to 54 in the United States, 61 percent of women said family responsibilities were a reason they weren’t working, compared with 37 percent of men. Of women who identify as homemakers and have not looked for a job in the last year, nearly three-quarters said they would consider going back if a job offered flexible hours or allowed them to work from home ... The poll also showed a stark difference between the experiences of nonworking women and men. Although the numbers of both have risen in the last 15 years, many more women appear to be in a better position to re-enter the work force.

Al Jazeera: America should be more like Disneyland (by David Cay Johnston on December 12, 2014) -- America in the 1950s was a land of boundless expectations about the future. We built the interstate highway system, created NASA and invested in middle-class prosperity. It was not the nation of today, in which the commonwealth crumbles around us, while powerlessness and hopelessness define millions of people’s lives ... America fails to invest in its infrastructure, costing us lives from accidents, floods, sinkholes from water-main failures and explosions from faulty natural gas lines. Sidewalks buckle or heave after winter freezes, making many hazardous to walk on. America’s roads deteriorate, costing the economy in efficiency ... As a people, we disinvest in America. Even though the country could borrow at extremely low interest rates, we refuse to take the risk. Instead, we let infrastructure deteriorate, cut school budgets, close libraries, raise college tuition and pay ever more for police and security even though crime has been declining for decades ... In an era when human knowledge is expanding at a rapidly accelerating rate, Congress cuts budgets for basic research, thereby encouraging smart young scientists to go overseas because they can get funding abroad. And of course the countries that receive them will reap the benefits of their discoveries ... A half-century ago, we put almost 1 percent of our economy into landing men on the moon, yet today we fall behind other countries in exploring space ... We pay a huge price for our lack of investment and faith in the future of America. We pay for all the inefficiency of our decrepit infrastructure. We pay with minds that will never be fully developed and with scientific breakthroughs that will enrich other countries. And we pay with lives of daily grind and unpleasantness without hope of respite.

[Editor's Note: Now, with a GOP Congress, we can forget about a higher federal minimum wage, or strengthening Social Security, or any adequate infrastructure spending. This country his headed straight down the toilet — right along with American workers. As it is now, China has already surpassed the U.S. as the world's largest economy. Now all politicians in Congress (and the very rich on Wall Street) has to do is just remember to flush.]

Dying for a Living Wage

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