Why aren't more Americans looking for work?
People are less inclined to work or seek new employment, leaving the labor force participation rate at its lowest level since the 1970s.
The rate is falling mainly because the number of Americans working or actively looking for work is shrinking. That's technically called the labor force participation rate, and it's at just 63.4% -- a level not seen since the 1970s.
Put quite simply: Many Americans no longer want to work. It's a phenomenon that Bob Funk, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, calls "the Great Shift," and it's not sustainable. "This is a period defined by the Boomer retirement, Millennial frustration, and growing reliance on government programs," he said, adding that it's a "tragedy in the making."
Funk is now CEO of Express Employment Professionals, a staffing firm, and released a white paper this week examining exactly why more Americans aren't looking for work.
Here are four reasons, according to the study:
1. Baby boomers are retiring. This generation, born between 1946 and 1964, makes up more than 26% of the population. They're starting to retire, and perhaps in a normal economy you might see more participation from younger workers to take their place. That's not happening, though.
On one hand, some boomers are forced to work longer because their retirement savings dried up in the recent market turmoil. But there are also boomers who were laid off or otherwise lost jobs, and decided to seek early retirement instead of moving into a lower-paying or lower-quality job.
2. Millennials are giving up. This generation, also known as Generation Y, was born between 1977 and 1994, and is having a serious problem finding work. They aren't getting the jobs that have come back in the recovery. As a result, 36% of them still live with their parents, they aren't working and they're feeling pretty miserable about the whole thing. Their parents can't be too thrilled, either.
3. People are stuck in the safety net of government benefits. A striking number of Americans are on disability insurance -- 4.6% of the working population in 2011. And in the last two years, less than 1% of them have returned to work. And states are happy to shift Americans into the disability category because it means the federal government picks up the tab.
4. Workers don't have the right skills. The so-called "skills gap" has been a hot topic lately, particularly since there are millions of job openings going unfilled. In a survey by the American Management Association, company leaders said workers aren't capable of good collaboration, communication and critical thinking.
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Take a single mother in her 30s with 3 kids who's on "disability". She might only get $1000/month on disability, which doesn't sound like much. But she doesn't have to pay for childcare. Each of her kids get free breakfast and lunch when they go to school. She gets a Section 8 housing allowance. Each of her kids very well might get a couple of hundred bucks a month from SSI. She gets several hundred dollars a month in food stamps. She gets a free phone. She gets free medical care and free meds. She also gets transportation vouchers. She can head down to the local food bank every week and stock up. She also qualifies for assistance with her power bill during the summer and winter, and maybe even free internet. She can get all her school supplies at the local school supply giveaway day. Her kids can get free clothes and coats and shoes from the clothing drive at the church down the street. And when Christmas rolls around, she just has to put her family's info on the Angel Tree at the mall and contact the local Marine Recruiting Office to sign up for Toys for Tots. It just doesn't pay for her to go out and get a $15/hr job.
The govt is allowing people to not have to work, and then tell the ones that do work to pay more.
The people that aren't working might be the truly smart ones in america
Well when you can sit on welfare in Hawaii and make $60,000 per year (if you collect all benefits welfare has to offer) why would anyone go looking for work?
Yeah - real shocker. 99 weeks of unemployment available you know -paid to stay home, check monster once or twice a day -rest of time dink around.
On top of un-employment -sign up for food stamps, then there's worker re-training, oh and as article said "disability" is growing - with all our new safer systems in place, we sure end up with an awful lot of "disabled workers" - too many safety nets. So many safety nets -it's like dragging those giant nets through the sea - you catch everybody.
Bottom line is -we make life too cushy for people who don't work. If you don't work - you shouldn't have access to all the nicer things those of us that work have access do. I'm willing to provide food, medicine, and shelter -not I-phones, cable tv, beer, cigarettes, 19" rims, etc etc
You get what you pay for. If you pay people to be unemployed for 99 weeks, that’s what you get people who are unemployed for 99 weeks.
If you subsidize something you get more of it. With WIC, welfare, food stamps, Section 8, Medicaid and the myriad other programs at the federal, state and local levels the government is subsidizing poverty, so that’s what they get, more poverty.
Most people cant live off 8.00 per. And yes I know that's there fault for not being a brain surgeon. And what about people who are in in their late 40,s and older. Employers wont hire them because their Insurance premiums go up. Wal-Mart cant hire them all. And don't get me started on short hrs. and low pay there.
And if the government ( alias the mob) !!! would stop telling the rich how to spend their money we would be better off all the way around.
Quit picking on the wrong people and start messing with Senators and so on. These guys piss away more money than all the mooching in the world !!!
The big problem is all the good jobs were farmed out by American business and what is left are the McJobs that do not pay enough to live on. Lester Thurow, author of The Zero-Sum Society, gave a lecture in Cleveland during the 70's pointing out that America was going from good paying jobs to McJobs.
We had our warning but chose to ignore it. The day is here when people can live on the jobs available because we let companies get away with valuing a days labor too low. Take a McJob and you are caught in the downward spiral of low pay. No employer wants older people who held good jobs and now work in a low paying McJob because they think, right or wrong, that the worker will jump ship the second anything better comes along.
Our society has become stratified. When you are young, a McJob is not a problem but when you are educated, older and held good paying jobs, the McJob is a curse. Add the fact that not enough hours can be had to live on while working a McJob so employers can save on paying for health benefits and the road to poverty is paved for many workers.
HELLO....(I despise that word) For the sake of a vote, our president has made 47% of the population dependent. .
why work when it pays more to feed off the working taxpayer?
Nice article. Baby boomers will not stop working until they simply can't. They can't afford to. This is bad for America.
Gen Y ers will not look for meaningful work if they have a constant failsafe to feed, shelter, and clothe them. Why should they join the service if they play it online?
3 is as it has always been just more so. Benefits never stop. How many weeks of unemployment do u get now? Where disability used to be a stigma, if you can get it now, by fraud or not, why not? It beats working right?
4 goes back to 2. Too many gen y-ers give up waaaay to easy. Life is meant to be tough to toughen you up. If they don't learn skills at early adult ages, they never will. If parents don't kick em in the butt, nothing will get done. It's easy to work a 5 hour shift waiting tables and sleep the rest of the day, but it takes work and discipline to do that and take 2-3 classes for your future.
America needs the nuclear family back with parents up to the task of raising good children.
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