My editor sent along a link and request for a report on the U.S. economy. The link offered a trumpeting headline, “What shutdown? Job growth strong in October”. CNN functioned as one of many heralds for the latest release of the job growth statistics. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy added 204,000 jobs in October. This is well above expectations of economists. The numbers were there for all to visualize, conveniently displayed with a bar graph. Dashing off a reply, I noted that the job statistics were most likely related to seasonal work in retail and the hospitality industries. So the chase was on….
My life is that of a mathematical dwarf. That being said, I am diligent enough to look beyond the geometric shapes to locate the alternative story. Essentially, bar graphs are like the reed which still needs to be woven into a three-dimensional basket. The lowly pie chart is like a crust without a filling.
Yahoo! sported a headline which was quite different than the one at CNN: “The Worst Jobs Report of the Year Just Announced?” Here are a couple of snippets from their article:
“….low-wage-paying jobs accounted for most of the new jobs in the U.S. economy in October: 44,000 jobs were created in the retail trade, 53,000 jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector, and 15,000 jobs in health care. Combined, these low-paying jobs made up 55% of all the jobs created in October!”
“The final troubling fact about the U.S. jobs market that no one wants to talk about is that in October, the civilian labor force (all workers in the U.S. economy) declined by 720,000! The labor force participation rate declined by 0.4% and stood at 62.8%. This is troublesome at the very core; it shows less and less Americans are working.”
Statistical news regarding national economy must always be converted to a three-dimensional product. So let’s begin to weave the mathematical basket by adding one more article; this one put out by the Associated Press. The headline reads, “Share of Young U.S. Adults Who Move Hits Fifty-Year Low.”
“Generation Wait”. This is the coinage demographers use when examining the impact of the 2007-2009 recession. The new 2013 figures from the U.S. Census Bureau present us with troubling trends. Young adult Americans are handcuffed to college debts and low-paying jobs. They are cordoned within the bedrooms of their childhood homes unable to afford a flight path free of parental subsidy. The mobility of our young adults has plummeted to a level which has not been seen in more than fifty years. Living in a state of suspended animation sounds great for geriatric individuals awaiting a fountain of youth. But healthy young adults in their prime are better served with the verb “Run!”
Americans have gone from “The Greatest Generation” to a 21st century alpha generation with a languishing waste of human potential. The end-point of this statistical basket of news squarely impacts down upon the shoulders of a bipedal upright mammal known as mankind. There are times when all men must stoop to earn a wage.
This is understandable. But the manner in which the job market is affecting sociometric outcomes for America’s young adults is disheartening. The blame for this waste of human potential lies firmly on the shoulders of our policymakers who scamper inside the Beltway. A primary task of governance is to bring all available forces together to create vibrant job markets which efficiently maximize human capital. Pondering the brevity of life, the average man has the potential for approximately 4 decades of productive labor after receiving a higher education.
The current statistics present the mathematical dilemma of college-educated graduates who are mired within a mirthless job market. This market is creating a decade of economic vapor for “Generation Wait”. I fear that the vapor may extend beyond the decade mark for more than a few. The U.S. job market today is a wasteland created by a combination of policy neglect and lack of guardianship over the rights of citizens.
High rates of joblessness combined with high rates of underemployment have a trickle -down effect within other markets. Perhaps the notion of family is considered quaint. But my personal conviction is unwavering. Stable heterosexual (nuclear) families are the guardians of the societal net and cultural mores. This micro-model governing unit also provides for the economic sustainability of a nation. Long before economists fell all over themselves discussing “sustainability”, the Creator had already set His own sustainability program in motion. Family!
The drive for young adult couples to marry is dependent on their ability to establish themselves as an autonomous family unit. Once established, a marriage then becomes an economic driver all on its own.
The initial movement toward marital inter-dependence can open the door for future home ownership and purchases related to home maintenance. The establishment of a nest facilitates a goal of generational survival.
The woman is able to transition into her role as a mother with greater ease when Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is realized. This role of motherhood is also courted by the marketplace in many subtle ways. The growth and development of our progeny sustains complete industries tailored to the perceptions of the mother. The examples are endless. But the point is the following: A sluggish economy and job market are counterproductive to retaining a generationally strong nation. And generationally de-linked populations are less capable of investment in the economy. Overall sustainability collapses with the collapse of the family unit. Simply stated, families are the locus of consumption.
Social anthropologists present their own statistics regarding reasons for the decline of the traditional family unit. Divorce statistics cannot be ignored. Nor can statistics regarding the advent of single parenthood be discounted. But at the end of the day the greatest concern must be reserved for “Generation Wait”. These are the healthy young adults who are either unemployed or under-employed. They are delaying marriage and family because of a vaporific job market.