Morning Action: Labor Day Blues
NUMBERS. The numbers don’t lie – President Obama’s economy is not working for the American people:
At 7.4%, the traditional unemployment rate remains higher than it did in December 2008, the month before Obama took office. Similarly, at 11.5 million, the number of unemployed (16+) remains higher than in December 2008.
But as we all know, the official unemployment rate is only part of the story.
At 14.0%, the so-called U-6 unemployment rate, which includes those only marginally attached to the workforce, remains above its December 2008 levels.
Many have given up entirely. At 63.4%, the nation’s labor force participation rate remains abysmally low. That compares to 65.8% just before Obama took office, and while the difference may seem slight, the impact is substantial. The New York Times explained recently the “rate has fallen almost as sharply for people aged 25 to 54 as it has for the overall adult population.”
Add to that discouraging statistic that there are 1.25 million unemployed entry level workers, a 56% increase since December 2008. These workers, unable to find jobs early in their careers, are unlikely to recapture the lost earnings potential.
And then there are the workers stuck in part time positions because of the economy, all 8.25 million of them.
WORK? Heritage explains, “Public opinion has also become much more tolerant of idleness.”
Public opinion imperiously forbids many things today, including smoking and not recycling, but not working is most definitely not one of them. We have not (yet) become a nation of slackers, mooches, and loafers, but we may reasonably wonder whether America is still “the Land of Labor,” as Benjamin Franklin described the country to prospective immigrants.
The erosion of our culture of work has profound ramifications for the health of the American Dream. Along with economic freedom, a culture that sustains, encourages, and honors hard work is one of the twin pillars that make the American Dream possible. The American Dream, after all, is dreamed by dreamers—but achieved by workers.