Monday, September 20, 2010

'Lost To The Normal Labor Market'

David Dayen of FDL points us to a paper by Arjun Jayadev and Mike Konczal of the Roosevelt Institute (.pdf), who conclude:
• Although the unemployment number remains high it
isn’t a full picture of the terrible situation in the labor
market. The population that is out of the labor force and
no longer trying to find a job is steadily increasing, and
the normal mechanisms for those people to reenter
employment have collapsed.
• Starting at the beginning of 2009 it is now more likely
that someone who is unemployed will drop out of the
labor force than find a job. This is a new problem for
our economy, as this hasn’t happened as far back as data
can be found (1967). These workers need targeted
intervention before they become completely lost to the
normal labor market. 
• Underemployment, or those employed working part-
time for economic reasons, has increase greatly, often
more than doubling. This is across all analyzed sectors
and occupations and is negatively correlated with
capacity underutilization. The underemployed have the
skills to work the jobs they have and their incentives
aren’t distorted by unemployment insurance - they point
to a story of a lack of aggregate demand.
Been there; experienced that...

A crafter of code whose skills are out of date (1½ years in my case, unless you count some of my recent efforts to acquire new skills) might as well not even look for a job.  If you are close to retirement age (in my case, I'm in that neverland between the earliest allowed retirement age at which one can collect Social Security and the age at which I would have liked to retire if my health had held out and if employment had continued to be available) and/or have health problems, employers have even less interest in you. In other words, when it comes to finding work, some of us can just forget it.

And then we have some economic think-tanks saying the recession is over,  speaking technically, ignoring the fact that the recovery is nearly jobless.

I am anything but excited about applying to retire, and especially unexcited about applying for disability when my disability would not necessarily degrade the quality of my work, if I could drive enough to get to a contract and take three or four unpaid breaks of, say, 30 minutes each during the day. But no rational executive in America would employ such a person, given the current state of unemployment and underemployment.

And no one in Congress or the Obama administration seems to give a good damn.

I hope each and every one of them breaks a leg, or depends on a spouse who suddenly has a stroke, or some such. I would not hope anything so mean-spirited for them if any of them cared in the least what happens to ordinary folks in dire circumstances... but I'm not holding my breath awaiting their epiphany.


  1. I'm here too. Just turned 61, fortunately not disabled, but from what I have experienced so far my chances of a landing a position are zero. Nobody wants an additional liability on their health insurance and nobody wants an old dude that hopes to retire in 5 years. I've decided that I am already retired though not by choice.

  2. It has been obvious for some time that the problem is demand. No one hires if they can't sell their product, and if people are out of work there is no demand.

    This has nothing to do with "skills". That's an excuse not a reason. The tech industry wants people willing to work a 60-80 hour week for 20 hours in pay, and they are getting it with H1Bs so they lay off Americans and make the "skills" claim.

    Once you hit 50 they are looking for an excuse to dump you because the numbers look better with the lower paid new hires.

    The job losses are in all fields, so retraining is useless. Re-train as what? An unemployed computer programmer, rather than an unemployed framing carpenter?

    We know what worked, but no one with power wants to do it.



• Click here to view existing comments.
• Or enter your new rhyme or reason
in the new comment box here.
• Or click the first Reply link below an existing
comment or reply and type in the
new reply box provided.
• Scrolling manually up and down the page
is also OK.

Static Pages (About, Quotes, etc.)

No Police Like H•lmes