The absurd claims, from both political parties, about job creation, both past deficits and future promises, and urgent monthly updates on jobs "created" and jobs "destroyed" insult our intelligence. Presidents don’t create jobs, and neither does Congress. At least we hope not, because a job so created is an offense to the person holding it. A president and congress can work together to create a climate that encourages capital and business formation and, in the long run, results in meaningful GDP expanding work and the jobs required to get it done plus enough tax revenue to pay for needed infrastructure, but such change takes time and occurs slowly. It requires patience and consistent policy. Jockeying tax rates up and down every few months or even every few years and random regulatory changes are both detrimental to the economic health of the country.
The jobs number most often quoted is the unemployment rate, but that number is very subjective and shifts around depending on whether or not people claim to be looking for jobs. A much more interesting number is the percent of the population employed, and that is what is plotted in the chart above. Click on the chart for more readable notes. Note that we hit a peak just as the dot com boom ended in 2000, and that the trend has been down since then.
In 1966, my first full year of employment as a chemical engineer at Eastman Chemical Co, Kingsport, TN, the economy was strong, and the unemployment rate was less than 4%. Approximately 37% of the population was working for pay, and about a third of those so employed were women. Forty six years later we are suffering an unemployment rate north of 8% but with a much larger proportion, about 45%, of the population employed, almost half of them women. Well, having more people at work and women having vastly improved access to jobs are very positive developments. But, other things being equal, having more people in the marketplace competing for available jobs is certain to result in higher average unemployment and lower pay.
One might reasonably conclude from the long term trends and relative lack of noise in the chart that our current unemployment problem has been decades in the making and will require a decade or so of consistent pro-business policy to reverse the trend. Yes, hiring census workers or seasonal workers to wrap Christmas presents or harvest crops can generate an uptick, but the long term trend goes on.
Employment and jobs, especially jobs associated with manufacturing goods that have export and trade value, have consistently been of strong interest to me and the frequent subject of blog postings. Here are six:
I have written all that stuff with little apparent recognition or response from Washington so thought I’d try a different approach. I noticed that it has become popular for magazines to publish numbered lists. I just saw a numbered list, for example, of the most and least diverse communities in America. And National Review just published a list of 689 reasons President Obama should not be reelected. I think the trend started with the Fortune 500 which has been around for decades, but where will it end?
Anyway, here is my list of 39 reasons for high unemployment in the USA.
Feel free to add items to the list. I am sure to have missed many. And, if you are relatively inexperienced and new to the work force and looking for a job, be sure to pay special attention to those 17 in the second section. They are the only ones you have control over.
Below are links to data quoted or plotted above.
http://data.bls.gov/pdq/SurveyOutputServlet (Labor Force Statistics)
http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0110384.html (Population Age Distribution)
http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0104719.html (Unemployment Data)
http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2002/05/art2full.pdf (Males, Females in Workforce)Tweet Follow @dkw2020