It appears that the concept of “no worker left behind” is a mythical term, at least according to a recent article in the New York Times. This article discussed what is happening to the American labor force, and here are some interesting statistics from that article:
- In 1954, around 96 percent of American men between the ages of 25 and 54 were in the workforce.
- Today, only 80 percent of American men in the same age group are in the workforce.
- One-fifth of all American men in their prime working years are not even in the workforce today.
- The U.S. has a lower percent of prime age men in their workforce than any other G-7 nation.
Please note that this does not include those who are in the workforce, but are currently unemployed. The numbers above are only for those men who cannot work, or do not want to work…they are out of the workforce entirely.
So, why are so many American men dropping out of the workforce? What has happened to the concept of “no worker left behind” on the national level? Here are some additional statistics that may shed some light on the reasons:
- Ten years ago there were 5 million Americans receiving Disability payments, primarily from federal funds.
- Today, there are 8.5 million Americans on disability—and the number is growing like wildfire. Today’s annual cost to U.S. taxpayers is $115 Billion, or around $1,500 per household.
- There are now more non-working men in the U.S. than at any time since the “Great Depression.”
All of these statistics are interesting in view of a post I wrote last week—Places That Are Hiring—about how large tech firms cannot find qualified people to work for them, and so they are buying up their smaller brethren just to acquire the talent.
In addition, it seems that many companies are not outsourcing work for monetary gain, they outsource because they can’t get the work done in the U.S. They move their business to where the qualified labor force is located. What a sad commentary on the quality and capabilities of America’s workforce.
America is losing its vigor. People in the U.S. today no longer exhibit the energy that made us great. Worse yet, no amount of stimulus money from the government is going to help—in fact our government has become so obsessed with programs that provide “comfort,” they have ignored programs to reinvigorate our country.
Capital is unavailable to small businesses, regulations are crushing, incentives are non-existent, there are no effective training programs that help people develop the skills they need to enter the workforce, and on, and on…and no one in Washington seems to care. All we hear today are rants on Social Security, Medicare, and war. What happened to the concepts of “no worker left behind” and “full employment?”
Isn’t it about time we looked at the big picture and tried to figure out how best to reinvigorate America, so we can provide good paying jobs for well-trained people in our workforce, and help that workforce grow back to be the best in the world—again. With more successful businesses, there would be more taxes paid, and we could stop the “slash and burn” approach to trying to balance budgets.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. —Margaret Mead