The lack of attention being given to the disastrous job situation since the recession of 2008-09 is remarkable. The federal government has spent the past several months dealing with almost anything except the economy. Media coverage has been almost non-existent.
The impact on people’s lives of being involuntarily unemployed is one of the most significant problems that undermines human flourishing. Yet based on comparative coverage over the past several months, one could be excused for thinking that in the United States, the more serious problem facing Americans is a church that refuses to pay for birth control for its employees. That doesn’t seem right.
Big government policies and regulations continue to weaken the job market, and further pressure is already guaranteed as the new health care financing regulations of the PPACA continue to be rolled out. Now the President is suggesting raising the federal minimum wage to $9.00, which would only increase downward pressure on job creation. Megan McArdle notes the debate about measuring the effect on employment of the minimum wage, but is surely correct when she concludes that the government should weigh the cost to those who are unemployed when considering the benefit to those in minimum wage jobs.
Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., the only things being talked about are background checks, gun magazine sizes, and a pathway to citizenship for many people in the country illegally. Mort Zuckerman’s recent column in the Wall Street Journal should draw attention to deeper problems, but with our feckless political class and the Honey Boo Boo media currently on offer, I’m not optimistic.
Here’s just a quick roundup of data from Mort Zuckerman:
“The U.S. labor market, which peaked in November 2007 when there were 139,143,000 jobs, now encompasses only 132,705,000 workers, a drop of 6.4 million jobs from the peak. The only work that has increased is part-time, and that is because it allows employers to reduce costs through a diminished benefit package or none at all.”
“It typically takes 25 months to close the employment gap from the employment peak near the start of the downturn. Yet this time, more than 60 months after employment peaked in January 2006, nonfarm unemployment is still more than three million jobs below where it started.”
“Ordinary Americans are looking for leadership and renewal. They know that a job is the most important family program, the most important economic program, and the most important national program that America could have.”