Thursday, June 6, 2013

Work a Day


While much attention is paid to the unemployment rate, which has been slowly decreasing in recent months, very little thought is given to the employment rate, which has not increased and remains at levels closer to that of 1983 than the pre-2008 economic boon.  The unemployment rate is mired in it's own convoluted mechanics.  It only looks at people actively seeking employment in the last four weeks and it neglects the partially and underemployed as well as the disenfranchised.  The employment rate though, when you eliminate the effects of retirement by focusing on 24 to 54 age range, becomes a much better descriptor of the state of occupation in the US population.  

What the approximately 75 percent employment rate tells us is that one in every four American adults who could and should be a productive part of the workforce is idle.  I think this has a lot to do with the devaluation of trade and craft work, the lack of willingness of the younger workers to take manual labor jobs, and an increasing cultural trend towards laziness.  It likely also has a lot to do with inadequate education, government subsidies that have no employment requirements, deeply rooted and institutionalized discrimination against minorities, women, the alter-abled, and anyone with a criminal history.

I cannot help but notice, however, that at least anecdotally, there are a lot of competent, educated, and employable people out there that are just not doing anything.  I wonder at this.  I struggle to imagine an idle life, not having to be anywhere or do anything but also not contributing to the world around me.  I wonder about boredom, self esteem, and how these people face the idea of their own futures.  I struggle to imagine a life without occupation and fail to relate to anything these able mind and bodied people have to say about politics, social issues, policy, or just about anything else. 

I believe that the employment crisis is a primary indicator of our cultural unwellness.  We are a country built on hard work, it is time to return to that ethic.  You are not too good for that job.  Waiting for a better offer is not a good idea.  The time is right now.  Get up.  Get sorted.  Get moving.  Life is in the doing.


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