Encouraging Job Numbers
The new administration is happy about today’s job report “showing” an unemployment rate of only 4.7 percent in February, down from 4.8 percent in January. In fact, they felt so good about it that they tweeted the job report results prior to it being officially released. The new administration’s excitement of this positive number is expected and they have every right to do so as this represents statistics of the first full month with Trump at the helm.
While this is an encouraging, continued downward trend in the unemployment rate, resulting in 235,000 jobs being added last month—even moving past most economists’ expectations whose figures were more in the 200,000 rang—we have much more to do.
What are the Real Unemployment Numbers – Forgotten People?
One factor, that is often overlooked, but brought to our attention by then candidate Trump several times during the election, is the way the unemployment rate is calculated. The unemployment rate statistic is considered inaccurate not only by Trump but by many economists. Many experts believe it is more realistically in the 25 to 30 percent range due to the anomaly of the “forgotten people” who have simply quit trying to look for work after trying for months or even years.
It is now the new administration’s turn to take on the very same statistical irregularity that they challenged throughout the election. The inaccurate unemployment figures are true for both the Obama and Trump administrations. The issue here is, the need to do something about a deeply entrenched problem. Given the fact that many are out of work, underemployed and have given up looking for employment or better work, we must make a way for these individuals to once again step back into the full-fledged, self-sustainable job market. We need to establish aggressive, progressive, creative partnerships between government and industry to encourage job growth for this group of “forgotten people” to help make up for numerous years of recession, automation and robotics implementation and decades of jobs being offshored to foreign countries.
If the unemployment rate statistic does not address many groups of people, one of which is the underemployed then let’s get them fully employed. These are individuals making somewhere in the $8 to $10 an hour range working 25 to 30 hours a week without benefits. Who can live on that in today’s world? These individuals, in our view, are also in the ranks of the “forgotten people,” as many are on welfare and food stamps simply to survive.
Job Solutions for Underemployed
Many of the underemployed are victims of the long recession and have been forced into lower paying, part-time service industry jobs that pay at or near minimum wage and are without medical and retirement benefits. These are individuals who need better opportunities and wages previously available in the full-time factory and corporate positions of yesteryear. Even though they may technically be working, the jobs they have been forced to accept are not good enough to survive on. These types of jobs many times leads to individuals living with parents, grouped-up together with others in small apartments, in public housing or on public assistance programs. They are indeed the “forgotten people,” workers unable to make a living wage without reaching out for additional help. We must ask, what can we proactively do to address this group of people?
Some suggestions may be to require companies that have structured their businesses to mainly hire and survive on part time employees, be required to pay a tax penalty for each employee on their payroll at a part-time basis. This will help offset the public assistance expenditures and encourage companies to utilize more full time employees. Another potential solution may be to ask all companies that hire mostly part-time employees to participate in a coalition where they all collaborate, working with other majority part-time hiring companies to ensure their employees can get a minimum of 40 hours a week of work amongst the group of coalition companies. To ensure all part-time employees receive medical insurance, the companies could be allowed to purchase insurance plans in on a group-basis, pooled with the other majority part time employee companies thereby obtaining much lower premium rates.
Job Solutions for the over 50 Crowd
Let’s take a closer look at a look at another group of “forgotten people” who may still be able to work but due to life circumstances and the job market dynamics, are forced to give up looking for work. This group are the over 50 years old crowd that have lost their jobs in the cruel recession of 2008 that spanned many years. These individuals may have been laid off from otherwise livable wage factory or corporate jobs that they were employed at for most of their lives. These “forgotten people” are now considered dinosaurs to the high-tech industries fueling the new economy. A whole new group of tech savvy millennials with vibrant brains who have been entirely entrenched in technology from a young age are out there competing for the new available jobs. These forgotten, older, yet very reliable and valuable job seekers with many more quality years yet to give to the workforce are unfortunately left to decay and feel unworthy rather than being productive. These older workers who have experienced the highs and lows of life offer something to the younger workers in being examples of a strong work ethic and advance the important traits of maturity along with helping build character for the new generation of worker.
For this group of job seekers, one solution may be to offer tax credits to companies who have training programs that lead to hiring of individuals over 50 years of age. An agreement with the federal government where they would help pay for the trainee’s wages during the training program phase progressing towards guaranteed full employment phase. While this is an added government expenditure, it makes more since then paying for ongoing unemployment or welfare benefits and helps create new self-sufficient workers once again. The old cliché it’s better to teach a man to fish rather than give him a fish holds true here. Eventually the companies would reimburse the government-funded money when the over-fifty-year employees reaches what is considered comparable full-employment wages through payroll deductions of the program participants. The terms of the training/employment contract would contain a clause for reimbursement that would be signed by the individuals at the time of being accepted into the training/employment program.
Ongoing Job Solutions
We will address other groups of “forgotten people” and potential solutions in the months ahead. We encourage you to comment and offer up your suggestions on this blog to help make a real and significant improvement to our countries job health.