Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Nineteen Percent

Bob Herbert in yesterday's New York Times:

The country has lost a crippling 6.7 million jobs since the Great Recession began in December 2007. No one is predicting a recovery in the foreseeable future powerful enough to replace the millions of jobs that have vanished in this historic downturn...

For those concerned with the economic viability of the American family going forward, the plight of young workers, especially young men, is particularly frightening. The percentage of young American men who are actually working is the lowest it has been in the 61 years of record-keeping, according to the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston.

Only 65 of every 100 men aged 20 through 24 years old were working on any given day in the first six months of this year. In the age group 25 through 34 years old, traditionally a prime age range for getting married and starting a family, just 81 of 100 men were employed.

For male teenagers, the numbers were disastrous: only 28 of every 100 males were employed in the 16- through 19-year-old age group. For minority teenagers, forget about it. The numbers are beyond scary; they’re catastrophic.

This should be the biggest story in the United States. When joblessness reaches these kinds of extremes, it doesn’t just damage individual families; it corrodes entire communities, fosters a sense of hopelessness and leads to disorder...

A truer picture of the employment crisis emerges when you combine the number of people who are officially counted as jobless with those who are working part time because they can’t find full-time work and those in the so-called labor market reserve — people who are not actively looking for work (because they have become discouraged, for example) but would take a job if one became available.

The tally from those three categories is a mind-boggling 30 million Americans — 19 percent of the overall work force.


Kyddryn said...

This is horrifying...

And why isn't this discussed more, in and out of the media? I keep hearing about the alleged upswing in the economy...but not about the despair, hopelessness, fear, and even anger that are growing in the jobless community.


Touched a nerve...my whole household is unemployed, getting by on what I can squeeze out of my art (laughable) and the roommates on the dole (I quit charging them rent when they lost their jobs - I may have a foul disposition and the manners of a troll, but I'm not completely heartless and evil).

I hope things change for the better soon.

Shade and Sweetwater,

LPB said...

The job losses in this recession have been truly terrifying.

However, keep in mind that employment is a lagging indicator of economic activity. Even if the leading indicators (e.g., inventory levels, etc.) are moving in the right direction, it doesn't *feel* like things are getting better because it could take another 12-24 months for employment to rise to levels at which citizen feel like things are going better.

It doesn't make it any less painful in the mean time, but this is why there's often a gap between what's in the headlines from economists and what's going in our lives.