The Corner

Behind Today’s Unemployment Data

Here’s some interesting commentary from Doug Short on the unemployment data. As discussed elsewhere, today’s numbers came as something of a relief, but it’s worth noting  (scroll down to the third chart in the commentary) that labor force participation as a percentage of the population over 16 continues to fall, continuing a decline that began (with a partial recovery between 2004-2008) in 2000. 2000 represented a turning point. Prior to that date the rate of labor force participation had grown, increasing steadily from 1960 (pausing only for the first oil shock and the 1980/81 recession), before jumping dramatically in the 1980s as the number of two-income households accelerated. It peaked out at nearly 65% in 2000.  By contrast “[t]he July [2011] ratio is a modern low of 58.1% — a level not seen since the 58.1% ratio of March 1953, when Eisenhower was president of a country of one-income households, the Korean War was still underway, and rumors were circulating that soft drinks would soon be sold in cans.”

 

Those numbers remind us (yet again) that helping people already here to find work will do more to ease our  long term budgetary woes than the mass immigration that is no solution at all. And to those who claim (remarkably) that a higher birth rate could also help, one can only reply  that a second baby boom would, boosting by the dependency ratio, make matters worse for at least two decades before it began to make the slightest difference. That’s two decades we cannot afford.

 

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