Unemployment today doesn't look like any unemployment in the recent American experience. We have the astonishing and dispiriting new reality that the "long-term jobless"—people out of work more than six months (27 weeks)—was about 44% of all people unemployed in February. A year ago that number was 24.6%Each month we hear from the Administration that we are turning a corner, that jobless claims are going down or holding steady. But when nearly twice as many people this year have been unemployed for six months as this time last year, it is hard to say that a recovery is on the way.
But remember all those young voters that reportedly helped carry Obama to victory--well they are getting screwed even worse:
But the aspect of this mess I find more disturbing is the numbers around what economists call "youth unemployment." The U.S. unemployment rate for workers under 25 years old is about 20%.If the President wants us to be more like Europe, he certainly seems to be on the path--not only for the "good" that he sees in cradle to grave government health care, but also the "bad" of massive unemployment among young people. Young people are the most energetic, the most passionate, and now the most unlikely group to have a job---even after college. So where are the new jobs going to come from? If Obama has his way--from public sector jobs. But public sector jobs or make work jobs like the Roosevelt era CCC, does not bring about economic growth. So where else are jobs to come from? Remember President Obama said that job creation would be a priority for his Administration this year but there doesn't seem to be many ideas coming from the White House.
In the final month of 2009, these were European unemployment rates for people under 25: Belgium, 22.6; Spain, 44.5; France, 25.2; Italy, 26.2; the U.K., 19; Sweden, 26.9; Finland, 23.5.
The only new-jobs idea the philosopher kings around Mr. Obama have had is the "green economy." No doubt it will create some jobs. But an idea so dependent on subsidy economics is not going to deliver strong-form employment for the best, brightest or willing and able in the next American generation. The path we're on is toward a flatter, gentler U.S. economy.For those who are unemployed for six months--they might take any job right now and that will start us down the path of small-growth, small-jobs recovery. Such a resignation will make us more like Europe and less like the nation we were under Presidents Reagan and Clinton when our economic engine was running smoothly and strongly. Now that we have hit a rough patch, it is not the time to abandon the idea that we are a great capitalist nation and become like Europe, a soft, comfortable but unimpressive society in which risk are not taken because they are not rewarded.
This is not the way forward to the next version of an American economy that once created Microsoft, Intel, MCI, Oracle, Google or even Twitter. The United States needs tremendous economic forces to lift its huge work force. Since 1990, roughly 80 million Americans have been born. They can't all be organic farmers or write scripts for "30 Rock."
Many upscale American parents somehow think jobs like their own are part of the nation's natural order. They are not. In Europe, they have already discovered that, and many there have accepted the new small-growth, small-jobs reality. Will we?