The long term unemployment problem in America

Posted By on January 10, 2012


A WSJ article illustrated what economists monitoring the U.S. employment market have known, but have failed to communicate successfully; we as a nation are on a long-term trend of  fewer decent paying middle class career jobs with dim prospects unless things change. (we deny it, make excuses and kick the can down the road just as we have with the debt, deficits and underfunded and bloating entitlements)

By a wide range of measures, the U.S. labor market has over the past two decades lost much of the edge it enjoyed over other developed countries. The big gains in education in the early 20th century have slowed. Americans are moving less frequently and changing jobs less often, making the job market less flexible. And most critically, a smaller share of Americans are working.

We all to often focus on short term changes measured in months or maybe even a year, but the long term trend for U.S. economic competitiveness and living wage jobs have been weakening for longer than just the current administration or second half of the prior administration. As a country we need the kind of change that makes the United States the most attractive place to manufacture products, run companies and raise a family, but until we focus on the reason companies move elsewhere we are doomed to continue the downward trend.

The risk, economists say, is that the U.S. will develop an underclass of semipermanently unemployed workers, with severe consequences for productivity, public finances and even social stability. Europe, which faced a similar problem in the 1980s, is still dealing with the consequences.

With Europe hoping to hang on to their socialist ways and heading into a recession, we have an opportunity to learn from their entitlement failures and buck the current trend. It is not too late, although the deeper government dependency grows, the more difficult it will be to return America to the principles which founded our country. The individual is key – return decision making and self-determination to the individual and reduce government dominance where ever possible.

How about starting with these three points:

  1. A regulation friendly environment and infrastructure for companies and the investors who take risk in them with capital
  2. Competitive, fairer and simplified corporate federal, state and local taxes (high US corporate taxes … unless they are wealthy enough play the tax game)
  3. Ambitious and educated workforce AND an education system which focuses on teaching what students need to excel in the workforce


Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.