For America’s Worsening Joblessness, Detroit is the Canary in the Mine!

mine canary

Why is it that out of 245 million working age people in America, only 143 million are actually working? A good percentage of ‘non-working’ adults are those that care for children in the home.

According to a 2012 Forbes survey, 1 in 3 working age women stay at home with their children. 1 in three of working women that have children resent their husbands for not making enough to allow them to stay at home. 84% of working women with children wish they could stay at home. Stay at home dads make up 176,000 of the population.

With the addition of women to the workforce, the overall percentage of Americans working increased from 59% 1950 to 67% in 2010, with women gains displacing men in all age categories, and especially in youth and over 55 age categories.

From before WWII when 19% of women entered the workforce, the percent of women participation grew to 67% through 2008, the recent job implosion. During that time, men’s participation actually dropped from 88% to 73%. The majority of percentage men’s employment drop was in youth and over 55 age categories. But, even in the men’s prime 25-45 years, men lost about 5% between 1950 and 2010.

The effect of such labor shifts was to reduce labor costs, shifting wages from men who still enjoy a 20% wage differential, and older workers who also are paid more for similar jobs, to less paid women and younger workers.

Of America’s 245 million eligible workers, why are only 143 million working? The numbers break down:

Documented Workers………………..143.2
Stay at home parents……………….….40.3
Unemployed……………………….………….19.2
Disabled………………………….…….………11.0
Welfare……………….………….………..……5.0
Undocumented immigrant workers..5.0
Organized and career crime…………..5.0
Investors…………………….……………..…..4.0
Incarcerated…….………………….………..2.3
Homeless…………………………………..…..1.0
Institutionalized………………….……..…0.3
Slaves………………………………………..…..0.1
Dropped out/opt out/barter………..…8.6

Arguably, the level of other categories that should be employable such as the ballooning disabled population and the doubling of incarcerated individuals is substantial. However, the combination of unemployed and dropped out is double what was the case prior to the job implosion and investors’ transfers of jobs overseas.

Adding a reasonable number of the above categories, say 19 million unemployed, 5 million disabled, 5 million welfare, 1 million incarcerated, and 5 million dropped out, we have 35 million Americans that would want to work if there were jobs for them. In addition, of those that are working, 25% of American workers earn less than $10 per hour and 47 million are on food stamps.

Of those the 8.6 million workers that have lost their way, typically older or less educated that have long since stopped looking for any job, unlike in decades of recessions past, they have no jobs for which to return. Their forgotten lives will be the monument of America’s era of international capitalism.

When I visited the salt mines in Krakow Poland, they symbolized the tour with a mine canary. Canaries are more sensitive to mine gases and die before the miners are affected. They say that Detroit is the canary in the mine of the United States economy and that what happens to Detroit is a symbol of what is to affect us all.

Detroit is sliding into workless oblivion. We watch as the state of Michigan rushes in to chop the city up. Instead, America should be shouting for action to reverse the city’s joblessness before the canary dies. We are all continuing to slide into a workless oblivion and the canary is just trying to warn us.

The Fed is continuing to keep the slide from accelerating, which is temporarily a good thing. The same catastrophe that Detroit is dealing with now would be happening in other parts of the country if it were not for the Fed buying stock to support the pension plans of public unions around the country. Housing would have continued to slide if it were not for the Fed purchasing excess housing stock.

We are not adding enough jobs to make up for population growth. We are stuffing excess joblessness in other categories. For those jobs that are created, we are subsidizing them with food stamps and other ballooning welfare programs.

Will we decide as a nation to choose another path? Will we implement system wide strategies that bring back working wages? Will we slow the slide of the disintegrating family? Will we return our schools to priming our businesses of the future? Will we reverse the scourge of crime on our communities? When will we reach out in support of Detroit?

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Filed under American Governance, American Politics, Jobs

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