The Dirty Little Secrets of American Unemployment
Unemployment in America remains high, at about 9%. Everyone acknowledges that this is a major problem for our economy and needs to be fixed, somehow. So the question is, why is unemployment so high? There are a few solid reasons for this, but don’t look for them to be said out loud by any political commentators, TV pundits, or politicians. Political correctness prohibits direct confrontation with the root causes of unemployment in our country today.
People long for “the good old days” when America was the leader in manufacturing and had a solid upwardly mobile middle class that enabled us to maintain the highest standard of living in the world. But those “good old days” were many decades ago, long before three factors came into play that literary changed the job market for all times. The three factors are:
1. Millions of illegal aliens entering the work force. The illegals have taken millions of entry level jobs away from young people and our less educated US citizens. They have completely dominated the food service and hotel service industries, as well as building construction, garment industry, meat packing, and just about any factory work that is still going on in our country. The influx of these millions of workers has turned many jobs that used to be good, middle-class, blue collar occupations into crappy, unskilled migrant worker jobs.
2. Women entering the work force in great numbers, which has resulted in more than doubling the amount of people looking for white collar and career jobs. Just about half of the workforce today is made up of women with the probability that women will outnumber men in the near future. For most women today, getting a job is an expected part of life. In 1900, fewer than 20% of women participated in the labor market while today the number is around 75% and growing. A Bloomberg News report last year released the staggering statistics that the top female CEOs are earning more than their male counterparts.
3. Factory and manufacturing plants closing down and moving off shore due to high union worker costs and government regulations. According to a recent report on Minyanville, a financial and business website, for most of the last century, the United States dominated global manufacturing — no country could compete with America‘s output. But in recent years, industry surveys have shown a decline in most sectors as the US continues to lose its factories to cheaper labor markets overseas, and especially to China. In 2010, the report says, the last remaining American flatware factory shut its doors, as did the nation’s last sardine cannery. Recent years have seen the shuttering of America’s last coat hanger factory, last button down shirt factory, and the entire sheetrock-producing town of Empire, Nevada – thanks to the US housing market crash.
For more than half a century we were the global leaders in manufacturing and job creation. It was American manufacturing that helped bring down Nazi Germany and the end of World War II. It helped rebuild Europe and Japan; it enabled the United States to outlast the Soviet empire in the Cold War, and at the same time, it met all the material needs of the American people. The American middle class grew thanks to its industrial strength. Our high-paying manufacturing jobs spurred a healthy and growing economy that didn’t depend on foreign nations for manufactured goods and armaments.
Products made in the USA once stood for high quality and innovation. But where are we now? Manufacturing as a share of the economy has been plummeting for decades. In 1965, manufacturing accounted for 53 percent of the economy. By 1988 it only accounted for 39 percent, and in 2004, it accounted for just 9 percent.
We’ve stopped making stuff here. Our military uniforms are not even completely made in the USA. Some materials are imported. Soon we won’t be making anything in the USA, except maybe reality shows and tattoos. Of course the loss of our manufacturing industry translates to job losses for our citizens. According?to?The Economist,?“For the first time since the Industrial Revolution, fewer than 10 percent of American workers are now employed in manufacturing” (Oct. 1, 2005).
But the group hit hardest by the job recession continues to be the young male workers. As reported in a Nov. 7 article in the Wall Street Journal, “American men 25 and under face one of the toughest job markets in modern history.” Ralph Catalano, a professor of public health at the University of California, Berkeley, said, “We’re at risk of having a generation of young males who aren’t well-connected to the labor market and who don’t feel strong ownership of community or society because they haven’t benefitted from it.”
And no, it is not the government’s role to “create” jobs, as the liberals would have you believe. The best thing government can do to spur employment would be to ease up on restrictions and regulations on private industry and get the hell out of the way so that the private sector can create once again. But it all boils down to this: Until we as a nation are able to talk about and confront the real causes of our unemployment problems, we will never be able to fix them, and the situation will never get better.