Lots of work for next pres­i­dent

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - OPINION - By Ralph R. Rei­land

No matter whether it’s Don­ald Trump or Hil­lary Clin­ton who wins the elec­tion on Nov. 8 and takes the oath of of­fice in Jan­uary, the vic­tor will be con­fronted with an in­box brim­ming over with acute so­cial and eco­nomic dif­fi­cul­ties.

Nev­er­the­less, re­gard­ing un­em­ploy­ment, the lat­est jobs re­port from the Department of La­bor, is­sued Oct. 7, re­capped Septem­ber’s eco­nomic per­for­mance and por­trayed the fol­low­ing semi-buoy­ant state of af­fairs: “To­tal non­farm pay­roll em­ploy­ment in­creased by 156,000 in Septem­ber, and the un­em­ploy­ment rate was lit­tle changed at 5.0 per­cent, the U.S. Bureau of La­bor Sta­tis­tics re­ported to­day.”

Con­versely, the La­bor Department’s re­port also ver­i­fied the weak­en­ing level of job cre­ation in the U.S. econ­omy: “Thus far this year, job growth has av­er­aged 178,000 per month, com­pared with an average of 229,000 per month in 2015.”

Re­port­ing the level of job­less­ness by the mil­lions, the La­bor Department stated the fol­low­ing: “The un­em­ploy­ment rate, at 5.0 per­cent, and the num­ber of un­em­ployed per­sons, at 7.9 mil­lion, changed lit­tle in Septem­ber. Both mea­sures have shown lit­tle move­ment, on net, since Au­gust of last year.”

Set­ting the of­fi­cial num­ber of un­em­ployed per­sons in the U.S. econ­omy at 7.9 mil­lion adds up to a huge un­der­count­ing of the ac­tual the level of U.S. job­less­ness and a far­reach­ing case of pub­lic sec­tor malfea­sance, as ev­i­denced by the job­less fig­ures con­tained in re­cent col­umn, “Men Need Help. Is Hil­lary Clin­ton the An­swer?” Oc­to­ber 21, 2016, by Su­san Chira, a se­nior cor­re­spon­dent and ed­i­tor on gen­der is­sues for The New York Times.

“If Hil­lary Clin­ton wins this elec­tion and be­comes the first fe­male pres­i­dent of the United States, Amer­i­can men may well be one of her most ur­gent prob­lems,” writes Ms. Chira. “Con­sider some star­tling sta­tis­tics: More than a fifth of Amer­i­can men — about 20 mil­lion peo­ple — be­tween 20 and 65 had no paid work last year.” That 20 mil­lion with no work is more than dou­ble the of­fi­cial job­less num­ber of 7.9 mil­lion.

Con­tin­ues Chira, “Seven mil­lion men be­tween 25 and 55 are no longer even look­ing for work, twice as many black men as white.” None of those seven mil­lion un­em­ployed in­di­vid­u­als are counted as un­em­ployed by the La­bor Department be­cause they’ve not been suf­fi­ciently ac­tive in look­ing for work in the pre­vi­ous four weeks. Rather than be­ing counted as un­em­ployed, they’re au­thor­i­ta­tively pi­geon­holed by the D.C. bu­reau­cracy as “dis­cour­aged” rather than job­less.

“There are 20 mil­lion men with felony records who are not in jail, with dim prospects of em­ploy­ment, and more of these are black men,” re­ports Chira, while also cit­ing fore­casts of higher lev­els of un­em­ploy­ment on the hori­zon: “Lawrence H. Sum­mers, the for­mer Trea­sury sec­re­tary and now a pro­fes­sor of eco­nom­ics at Har­vard, es­ti­mates that a third of men be­tween 25 and 54 with­out col­lege ed­u­ca­tions could be out of work by mid­cen­tury.”

Sim­i­larly, women in the work­force are not ex­empt from the in­se­cu­ri­ties and job­less­ness be­ing doled out in the la­bor mar­ket. “Econ­o­mists and schol­ars have as­sem­bled a trove of disturbing data about the plight of men, even as they ac­knowl­edge that women’s em­ploy­ment has stalled for the past 15 years as well,” writes Chira.

Re­gret­tably, the seem­ingly end­less months of back­bit­ing in the elec­tion fo­cus­ing on Trump’s in­ci­vil­ity and the Clin­ton staff’s prac­tice of smash­ing her com­mu­ni­ca­tion de­vices with ham­mers will do noth­ing to fix the prob­lem of this in­creas­ingly marginal­ized and dispir­ited work­force. Ralph R. Rei­land is an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of eco­nom­ics and the B. Ken­neth Si­mon pro­fes­sor of free en­ter­prise at Robert Mor­ris Univer­sity in Pitts­burgh. Email him at rrrei­land@aol. com.

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