Job Anxiety

November 26, 2013

bad-cartoonA few twinkling stars can be seen this way-early Tuesday here on California’s north coast, but mostly it’s wispy clouds and an indiscreet partial-moon.

Economics is pretty boring unless it specifically pertains to me. And this week it really does — the liquor store I manage will encounter a double shot this week with both the Thanksgiving holiday on tap, but in a bigger, more-enriched way, it’s also the first of the month.
A big chunk of our customer base gets some kind of government check.

Currently, the American working population is anxiously looking for any kind of check — especially youngsters.

(Illustration found here).

Indications indicate the US — along with the vast majority of the planet — is in what’s been termed “secular stagnation,” or what Paul Krugman calls a “permanent slump,” without much of a chance of anything fiscal moving about the work boards.
And despite all the political bullshit, jobs should be job-one for all politicians right now.
Yet the worry of US workers has never been this acute.
From the Washington Post yesterday:

More than six in 10 workers in a recent Washington Post-Miller Center poll worry that they will lose their jobs to the economy, surpassing concerns in more than a dozen surveys dating to the 1970s.
Nearly one in three, 32 percent, say they worry “a lot” about losing their jobs, also a record high, according to the joint survey, which explores Americans’ changing definition of success and their confidence in the country’s future.
The Miller Center is a nonpartisan affiliate of the University of Virginia specializing in public policy, presidential scholarship and political history.
Job insecurities have always been higher among low-income Americans, but they typically rose and fell across all levels of the income ladder.
Today, workers at the bottom have drifted away, occupying their own island of in­security.
Lower-paid workers also worry far more about making ends meet.
Fully 85 percent of them fear that their families’ income will not be enough to meet expenses, up 25 points from a 1971 survey asking an identical question.
Thirty-two percent say they worry all the time about meeting expenses, a number that has almost tripled since the 1970s.

Looks real bad out there.
All that dire shit doesn’t seem to compare with Friday’s stats from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which revealed ‘unemployment rates fell in 28 states in October while non-farm payroll employment increased in 34 states,’ but for some it’s still ugly work-wise.
And if you’re young — forget it.
Economist Jeff Madrick covered the subject in Harper’s Magazine this month, but that article is behind a paywall, but TruthDig explained it for free:

New Orleans has it worst, Madrick writes.
There, 23 percent of 18-to 24-year-olds are out of school and without jobs.
The national number is 17 percent.
Experts figure there are 6.7 million young people nationwide who are in this fix.
American policymakers were once determined to have it otherwise.
“A lot of this determination had to do with fears of social unrest stirred up by the racial violence of the Sixties and, several decades later, the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles,” Madrick writes.
“One of the federal government’s responses was to create hundreds of thousands of summer jobs for teenagers at parks, construction sites, and nonprofits.
But these programs mostly ended in the early years of the George W. Bush Administration, after a decade of falling crime.”
And today, “The employment prospects for those between the ages of twenty and twenty-four have fallen more than for any other age group besides teens.
In 2000, 72 percent of those young adults had steady employment; today, only 61 percent do.
And when they are able to find work, their jobs don’t pay well: inflation-adjusted wages for men aged sixteen to twenty-four were about 30 percent lower in 2010 than in 1973.
Among young women, wages dropped 11 percent in that time.”
Furthermore, many jobs once held by youths are going to older workers that require little training.

Meanwhile in America, researchers have put the cost of lost tax revenues and increased social costs on a single unemployed youth at more than a million dollars.
“With an estimated 6.7 million [members of] Opportunity Youth [a group helping people under 24 who don’t have jobs and are not enrolled in school] in America right now, the total lost wealth will be well into the trillions of dollars.”

And women are still on the unnatural curve downward from men: On average, women working full time make only about 81% of the median earnings of their male counterparts.

Work hard for the money — Where, though, is the real question.

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