Plenty of excellent articles and commentary this Labor Day weekend about jobs and the challenges facing American workers both during this recession and longer term.
Here are a few. All have implications for public and corporate policy — and for America’s workforce and our nation’s ability to compete in today’s global economy.
“Women gain as men lose jobs.” Dennis Cauchon, USA Today.
Women are on the verge of outnumbering men in the workforce for the first time, a historic reversal caused by long-term changes in women’s roles and massive job losses for men during this recession.
“A Reluctance to Retire Means Fewer Job Openings.” Catherine Rampell and Matthew Saltmarsh, The New York Times.
To the long list of reasons American companies aren’t hiring — business losses, tight credit, consumer retrenchment — add the fact that many of their older workers are unable, or afraid, to retire.
“Bad Future for Jobs.” Robert J. Samuelson, The Washington Post.
The implications of prolonged high unemployment — should it materialize — haven’t been fully explored. People without work don’t acquire on-the-job skills. Young college graduates are already having trouble getting work. High unemployment could depress wage gains for years. It could foster protectionism and long-term poverty. “In a tight economy like the late 1990s, firms are more willing to take chances on more disadvantaged workers,” says Harvard economist Larry Katz. EPI’s Lawrence Mishel thinks that the effects on low-income families would be devastating; the child poverty rate could jump from 18 percent in 2007 to 27 percent, he says.
And one more story that focuses on a segment of the population trying to enter the workforce but can’t.
“Teenage Jobless Rate Reaches Record High.” Catherine Rampell, The New York Times.
This August, the teenage unemployment rate — that is, the percentage of teenagers who wanted a job who could not find one — was 25.5 percent, its highest level since the government began keeping track of such statistics in 1948. Likewise, the percentage of teenagers over all who were working was at its lowest level in recorded history.
Corporate Voices’ research, policy outreach and business engagement touch all of the issues raised in these stories — but particularly the increasingly important issue of how to best help young people succeed in school, on the job and throughout life.