Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Why Aren’t Labor Force Dropouts Now Dropping Back In?

 

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As mentioned in a previous post, WSJ reporter Josh Zumbrun looked yesterday at why a stronger job market isn’t “luring back many of the millions who dropped out of the labor market during the down times. … Over the past three months, an average of 6.8% of those outside the labor force either found a job or began looking for one. That means people are entering the labor force at the lowest pace in records kept since 1990, down from more than 8% in 2010.” And the labor force participation rate in November was exactly where it was at the end of 2013.

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While there is a demographic piece to the story — all those baby boomers retiring — that is not the whole story. Zumbrun:

Another big explanation could be that people who drop out amid a bad economy can’t easily be enticed back. Economists call this labor-market scarring. People find other ways to get through life, even precariously, by relying on friends and family, going on disability or retiring early. “You can leave for economic reasons, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to come back for economic reasons,” Mr. Feroli said.

And a bit more on long-term joblessness and “labor-market scarring” from a 2012 WSJ piece:

Workers who lose their jobs because of cyclical factors—a factory that lays off workers, a restaurant that closes, an office that decides to go without a front-desk receptionist—might stay out of work so long that they become effectively unemployable. Their skills erode, they fall behind on the latest technologies and industry trends, or they become stigmatized by employers who assume there must be something wrong with anyone who’s been unemployed so long.

And I wonder if job polarization — job growth at the skill and wage extreme, but not in the middle — is also not playing a role. This from a recent New York Times piece on nonemployment:

Many men, in particular, have decided that low-wage work will not improve their lives, in part because deep changes in American society have made it easier for them to live without working. These changes include the availability of federal disability benefits; the decline of marriage, which means fewer men provide for children; and the rise of the Internet, which has reduced the isolation of unemployment. At the same time, it has become harder for men to find higher-paying jobs. Foreign competition and technological advances have eliminated many of the jobs in which high school graduates … could earn $40 an hour, or more.

To illustrate the trend, reporter Binyamin Appelbaum tells the story of Frank Walsh, a union electrician out of work for four years, who is married with two kids. The family lives on his wife’s part-time income and an almost-evaporated inheritance from Walsh’s mother. He’s not quite ready to work fast food or retail:

Sitting in the food court at a mall near his Maryland home, he sees that some of the restaurants are hiring. He says he can’t wait much longer to find a job. But he’s not ready yet. “I’d work for them, but they’re only willing to pay $10 an hour,” he said, pointing at a Chick-fil-A that probably pays most of its workers less than that. “I’m 49 with two kids — $10 just isn’t going to cut it.”

And here are few policy ideas on dealing with nonemployment. Also, check out this piece from The Economist on the less-than-satisfying nature of clerical, sales, and other service work (particularly at low wages):

The issue is not that jobs used to have meaning and now they don’t; most jobs in most periods have undoubtedly been staffed by people who would prefer to be doing something else. The issue is that too little of the recent gains from technological advance and economic growth have gone toward giving people the time and resources to enjoy their lives outside work. Early in the industrial era real wages soared and hours worked declined. In the past generation, by contrast, real wages have grown slowly and workweeks haven’t grown shorter.

 

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  1. AIG Inactive

    James Pethokoukis: The issue is that too little of the recent gains from technological advance and economic growth have gone toward giving people the time and resources to enjoy their lives outside work.

    That’s clearly not true. Considering that today almost…everything…that one might consider as “enjoying life” costs substantially less than it did in decades ago.

    The main reason for the long-term/permanent unemployment is that…a lot of these people were just slack. They weren’t very productive in the first place.

    When times are good, companies can afford to keep “slack” around, primarily because it is costly to try and remove them. Some level of “unproductivity” is tolerated. But the recession forced them to remove most of these unproductive people…and now they see no reason to hire them back again.

    Which is why productivity per worker has soared in the US (far above any other nation).

    Which is why…skills…are so important. Which is why all the nonsense about “don’t go to college” etc. which has become so popular among certain populist “conservatives”, is just about the worst thing imaginable to do.

    Longing for the days when “HS graduates could make $40/hour” is pointless, not only because there never were such “good old days”, but because thanks to the elimination of those “good old days”, things cost so much cheaper now.

    But, saying all this, eliminates the need for “policy prescriptions” ;) How can there be anything in life that doesn’t require a “policy”?

    • #1
    • December 30, 2014, at 9:16 AM PST
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  2. Randy Webster Member

    The way I do the math, $40/hr is over $80k a year. High school grads used to make that?

    • #2
    • December 30, 2014, at 10:01 AM PST
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  3. Mark Krikorian Contributor

    Doubling immigration — as Obama, McCain, Schumer, Rubio, Pelosi, and Jeb want to do — is sure to fix this.

    • #3
    • December 30, 2014, at 10:02 AM PST
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  4. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White MaleJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    AIG:

    Which is why…skills…are so important. Which is why all the nonsense about “don’t go to college” etc. which has become so popular among certain populist “conservatives”, is just about the worst thing imaginable to do.

    There are a lot of ways to aquire … skills… other than through attending college.

    • #4
    • December 30, 2014, at 10:16 AM PST
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  5. AIG Inactive

    Miffed White Male: There are a lot of ways to aquire … skills… other than through attending college.

    How does one become a chemical engineer, for example?

    Mark Krikorian: Doubling immigration — as Obama, McCain, Schumer, Rubio, Pelosi, and Jeb want to do — is sure to fix this.

    There’s 2 Mexican guys outside my home right now doing landscaping. There’s about a dozen black men standing around the 2-3 gas stations about 2 blocks from my house, staring at people, doing nothing.

    Yeah, I’ll take the 2 Mexican immigrants any day of the week. Thanks.

    It amazes me that “conservatives” think that a good idea in labor markets is to reduce competition by controlling supply…but in the same breadth they claim to be for “free markets”.

    Imagine applying the same logic as so many “conservatives” do in labor markets, to other markets!

    Oh wait…you get the Democrats!

    Randy Webster: The way I do the math, $40/hr is over $80k a year. High school grads used to make that?

    If they worked at GM, yes. Which is why GM went bankrupt, made horrible cars, and Detroit went bankrupt.

    Good old days, right?

    • #5
    • December 30, 2014, at 10:28 AM PST
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  6. Instugator Thatcher
    InstugatorJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    @RandyWebster – not immediately out of High School, no. But my Dad had only a high school education and was earning 6 figures in his 50’s.

    • #6
    • December 30, 2014, at 11:03 AM PST
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  7. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White MaleJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    AIG:

    Miffed White Male: There are a lot of ways to aquire … skills… other than through attending college.

    How does one become a chemical engineer, for example?

    How does one become a barber, or a plumber, or an electrician, or a soldier?

    • #7
    • December 30, 2014, at 11:07 AM PST
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  8. Michael Minnott Member
    Michael MinnottJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    It amazes me that “conservatives” think that a good idea in labor markets is to reduce competition by controlling supply…but in the same breadth they claim to be for “free markets”.Imagine applying the same logic as so many “conservatives” do in labor markets, to other markets!

    It isn’t a real “free market” if the immigrants consume more in social services and infrastructure than they contribute to the tax base. That is both welfare to them and to their employers. That is why the US Chamber of Commerce is itching to open the immigration flood gates. They are the most brazen welfare queens.

    Mass immigration of low-skilled workers combined with a welfare state is a recipe for disaster.

    • #8
    • December 30, 2014, at 11:51 AM PST
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  9. James Gawron Thatcher
    James GawronJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    AIG,

    The main reason for the long-term/permanent unemployment is that…a lot of these people were just slack. They weren’t very productive in the first place.

    The Fuhrer is angry that we are losing the War. The German people just don’t have the WILL. They deserve to lose!

    The reason that they aren’t going back into the workforce is that the economy sucks! No jobs, half jobs, weak jobs, and the wrong jobs. The unemployment rate of sub 6% is a ridiculous fantasy.

    What we need is a total pro growth policy from top to bottom. Low taxes both personal and corporate, unleash the energy sector and stop the environmental extortionists, stop illegal immigration period, replace the ACA with a direct tax credit for health care.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #9
    • December 30, 2014, at 12:09 PM PST
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  10. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    In the Obama economy many of my family and friends that once had $60K – $80K full time jobs now have minimum wage part time jobs and are glad to get them. I know if they could find better employment they would. When I have mentioned this in the past others on this site suggest that they uproot and split up their families and move to where the jobs are (mainly the bigger cities with federal government presence). I on the other hand feel that maybe the government should create an environment where people throughout the country could thrive and not just those in the biggest cities.

    • #10
    • December 30, 2014, at 5:45 PM PST
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  11. AIG Inactive

    Michael Minnott: It isn’t a real “free market” if the immigrants consume more in social services and infrastructure than they contribute to the tax base. That is both welfare to them and to their employers. That is why the US Chamber of Commerce is itching to open the immigration flood gates. They are the most brazen welfare queens.

    Pretty sure those 2 Mexican guys doing my landscaping are contributing about 16 times more than the 2 dozen black men hanging around the gas station…combined.

    Miffed White Male: How does one become a barber, or a plumber, or an electrician, or a soldier?

    Annual median wages for a barber are $25,000.

    Annual wages for a chemical engineer are $95,000.

    So there’s that…

    Michael Minnott: Mass immigration of low-skilled workers combined with a welfare state is a recipe for disaster.

    So end the Welfare state. Not the Mexicans doing my yard work.

    James Gawron: The Fuhrer is angry that we are losing the War. The German people just don’t have the WILL. They deserve to lose!

    In a capitalist economy, you get paid on your productivity.

    If you want to be paid a lot for doing nothing…go to North Korea or Cuba, my dear “true conservatives”

    James Gawron: The reason that they aren’t going back into the workforce is that the economy sucks! No jobs, half jobs, weak jobs, and the wrong jobs. The unemployment rate of sub 6% is a ridiculous fantasy.

    There’s huge unmet demand in labor in the economy.

    What there is…is a shortage of skills and people willing to take those jobs.

    James Gawron: What we need is a total pro growth policy from top to bottom. Low taxes both personal and corporate, unleash the energy sector and stop the environmental extortionists, stop illegal immigration period, replace the ACA with a direct tax credit for health care.

    I guess the energy sector runs on barbers.

    Oh wait no…it runs on chemical engineers, about 80% of whom are foreign born.

    Inconvenient facts.

    Fake John Galt: In the Obama economy many of my family and friends that once had $60K – $80K full time jobs now have minimum wage part time jobs and are glad to get them

    Yes, GM workers, for example.

    • #11
    • December 30, 2014, at 9:56 PM PST
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  12. AIG Inactive

    I realize that it’s an absolute necessity to say that everything is Obama’s fault…Obama Obama Obama blah blah blah.

    But look, that gets old pretty quick. And it must be painfully obvious even to the people who say it, that they’re only saying it to score political points, and not as a serious argument.

    Well, let me put your minds at rest: you don’t need to do that on Ricochet. No one here is supporting Obama or is a Liberal. So there’s no point in repeating talking points from Talk Radio on here. We all know Obama sucks. We got it.

    Now lets move on to a real and serious conversation, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way.

    There is indeed a real and serious…structural…issue in the labor markets. It’s got nothing to do with politics. It’s got nothing to do with the President.

    The US is a capitalist economy. People and companies do stuff, regardless of the President or the Politics. Amazing, isn’t it? Well you heard it here first!

    Now the structural problem is one that has been around for nearly 2 decades. It isn’t one that started in 2008 or in 2012. It’s one of mismatch of demand for skills and supply of skills.

    The US economy competes on innovation. It competes on high tech. It competes on productivity, thanks to this high tech. It requires workers that have increasingly more specialized…and productive…skill sets.

    Obviously, a lot of people are simply not going to be able to keep up with that. It’s too bad. But its the reality. Which is why so many foreign-born students are needed to fill in the ranks in the high-tech jobs. Which is why 80% of new chemical engineering grads in the US are foreign born. This isn’t a bad thing at all…but it reflects the reality.

    Sometimes, it’s just that simple: some people aren’t going to have the necessary skills to compete, and especially so as the economy moves into higher levels of technology.

    Another important reason for the structural problems in the labor markets is also rather simple: home ownership. Higher levels of home ownership are directly tied to higher levels of unemployment. People who can’t move if they need to move, because of their homes, end up being unemployed.

    Well, for the past decade…both political parties…have been hammering at people that home ownership is the greatest thing since sliced cheese. Well, we got what we wanted. Higher levels of home ownership. And when home prices came crashing down, and people couldn’t sell their homes…and then needed to move to other places in the country ti find work, they found it impossible to do so.

    Jobs are plenty, if you’re willing to move. But people can’t move, thanks to the absurd home ownership situation we’ve gotten ourselves into. How many unfilled engineering jobs are there in towns across the Mid West or South? Loads. But no one wants to move there, and many can’t move there.

    These are real issues that have nothing to do with “the President”, or “politics”, or “immigration” etc etc. And these are the issues that cause 95% of the effect people are talking about here.

    And these aren’t “bad things”. They’re just the reality. The US labor markets are extremely dynamic. There’s about a 20% turn-over in jobs in the US every year. That means that on average about every 5 years, there’s a complete turnover in job positions in the US economy.

    The US labor markets are also extremely competitive, in terms of the productivity level and skill level that is required. And there’s very low information costs: meaning employers can pick and chose rather costlessly between employees thanks to all the internet tools available these days for recruiting people.

    That all means that this is the direction in which people need to be moving in the future, like it or not.

    Not dreaming about the “good old days when high school grads made $40/hour”. Those weren’t “good old days”.

    PS: And if we can’t find the kids who are capable or willing to go become chemical engineers in the US, in order to have this great energy sector of ours…we need to import them. That’s a great thing! Well, not to many here, of course. Which is puzzling, to say the least!

    And if we can’t get people to do my lawn for dirt cheap, and to serve at restaurants, and do all the service jobs that American’s won’t do…then we still need someone to do that work.

    You can speak about Welfare all you want. And of course it’s needed to reform it. But that’s besides the point. Someone still has to do the work! You ain’t doing it!

    When you’re willing to do people’s lawns at the price those 2 Mexicans will do it, then you can complain. Till then…

    • #12
    • December 30, 2014, at 10:16 PM PST
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  13. Michael Minnott Member
    Michael MinnottJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    AIG,

    I think you are arguing past everyone. No one here is arguing against legal immigration of high skilled workers such as chemical engineers. You make some valid points regarding the structural problems that have come about over the years, and I don’t think anyone here here does not see that the Republicans have their dirty fingerprints on it along with the Dems. I do think you are too quick to dismiss skilled tradesmen as a viable alternative to the college path, and I am skeptical that good paying jobs go unfilled due to people being tied to their homes (although I agree with you that the politicians of both parties have turned home ownership into a racket).

    However, mass immigration of unskilled workers in our country is just not feasible. I couldn’t agree more that we shouldn’t have a welfare state, but we do, however foolishly. Aggravating that is we’re not just paying for the public services your 2 landscapers consume, but also for their wives, kids, parents (of both spouses) and other assorted extended family members that they bring with them. This makes the apparent low cost of those landscapers the result of a de facto subsidy from your fellow tax payers, a case of concentrated benefit, but distributed cost.

    • #13
    • December 31, 2014, at 12:53 AM PST
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  14. Michael Minnott Member
    Michael MinnottJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    AIG,

    You’re also correct to take down the cherished myth of all those $40/hour jobs for high school grads. A lot of high school grads never made that kind of money to begin with and the unions priced themselves out of being globally competitive. The “good old days” either weren’t that good, or were illusory.

    Back to the main topic, I suspect much of the low labor participation is due to 3 things:

    1) Boomers retiring, taking early retirement, or disability (essentially early retirement by other means).

    2) Women realizing that the feminist promise of “career fulfillment”only served to trap them in lame jobs they can’t stand, so they have taken this opportunity to flee the galley slavery of cubicle-ville.

    3) A generation of Millenials woefully ill-educated and unprepared for adulthood and gainful employment.

    • #14
    • December 31, 2014, at 1:13 AM PST
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  15. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    AIG:

    Inconvenient facts.

    Fake John Galt: In the Obama economy many of my family and friends that once had $60K – $80K full time jobs now have minimum wage part time jobs and are glad to get them

    Yes, GM workers, for example.

    But none of the people I am talking about were GM workers or autoworkers at all or even union workers. Nor are they lazy or untrained or untrainable or unwilling to work since they are now doing jobs making a fraction what they did since their jobs are now gone. It is just in a good economy there were jobs available that allowed them to make good money in a bad economy there is not. We are in a bad economy.

    • #15
    • December 31, 2014, at 7:55 AM PST
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  16. Mark Krikorian Contributor

    Mark Krikorian: Doubling immigration — as Obama, McCain, Schumer, Rubio, Pelosi, and Jeb want to do — is sure to fix this.

    There’s 2 Mexican guys outside my home right now doing landscaping. There’s about a dozen black men standing around the 2-3 gas stations about 2 blocks from my house, staring at people, doing nothing.

    Yeah, I’ll take the 2 Mexican immigrants any day of the week. Thanks.

    The thing is that public policy doesn’t exist for the benefit of your lawn. If there are a dozen Americans (whatever their color) standing around doing nothing while two foreigners (whatever their origin) are working, that is indeed a problem. But how does importing more foreigners fix that?

    Or, maybe the way to think about it is to ask what do we see as the problem? Is it that you can’t find good landscaping help (most people mow their own lawns, BTW)? If so, then importing docile, industrious, and obedient foreigners can be the solution.

    But if the problem is that a dozen Americans are sitting around not working (and the welfare, tax, family, and even crime problems that likely stem from that fact), then importing more foreigners — however industrious and obedient — isn’t going to fix the problem, and is likely going to make it worse, as their presence induces even more Americans to drop out of the labor force.

    In other words, immigration policy is a place where civic-mindedness is necessary, rather than simply individuals’ desire for cheap servants. And that might well be the primary reason it’s so hard to address.

    • #16
    • December 31, 2014, at 8:31 AM PST
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  17. PsychLynne Inactive

    Turning the conversational corner from the above discussion, just an FYI.

    My husband has been unemployed from full-time work since we moved for me to take a job 3 1/2 years ago. He has not found employment in his field despite multiple interviews. For the past year, he has worked part-time (8 hrs/week) as a wine salesman in a local grocery store. Here are the reasons jumping back into the full-time labor market has been challenging/difficult, even with a college degree:

    • Going back to work costs money – we currently make do with one reliable car and one car on “palliative care” Going to work more than about 5 miles away means a new car for him on the front end of the job.
    • Child care for the school year and summer – for school year, roughly $300/mo for one child. For summer, close to $8000 for 3 months for two kids. Right now, his part-time schedule works with my telework schedule and no childcare costs.
    • The numbers exist in tension with the intangibles…our kids love having him home, and I have a fairly lengthy commute, so someone at home is a really nice thing to have.

    These are part of why he hasn’t returned to full-time work. The FT wine position came open earlier this year, but doesn’t pay enough to cover the cost, so he didn’t apply for it. I believe that like many others in the situation, his overall earning prospects and career acheivement are greatly reduced by his lengthy unemployment.

    However, a couple of weeks from now, we’ll be right back in the thick of it, searching ads, targeting jobs, writing cover letters, and vacillating between optimism and cynicism about the economy and our experience of it.

    • #17
    • December 31, 2014, at 11:08 AM PST
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  18. James Gawron Thatcher
    James GawronJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    AIG,

    I realize that it’s an absolute necessity to say that everything is Obama’s fault…Obama Obama Obama blah blah blah.

    But look, that gets old pretty quick. And it must be painfully obvious even to the people who say it, that they’re only saying it to score political points, and not as a serious argument.

    I am for content as much as you are. However, Romney lost the opportunity to put Obama away in the debates because he wasn’t willing to use arguments that stung him enough. I am not talking about personal insults or extremist falsehoods. You must pack enough rhetoric to make it hurt. We will be going into the new Heavy Weight World Championship prize fight for 2016. Of course, we are the party of substance. Of course, Ricochet is one of the most substance filled open forums on the net that exists. However, we must also be ready to pack enough punch to knock out the Dem whoever it is. I think Mr. Pethokoukis is still worried too much about the Washington Examiner. You are worried too much about any anti-Obama anti-Dem rhetoric on Ricochet. Man does not live by PhD thesis alone. We need a little fire in the belly too.

    If we gear ourselves to an attitude that assumes only people with advanced degrees deserve a job and those with multiple advanced degrees deserve the best job, we are never going to win an election. This sets us up as the party of the disengaged bloodless technocrats. Growth & Freedom gives everyone in the US a chance to participate and benefit. Liberty & Dignity gives hope to everyone around the World.

    Everything can not be a Theme. However, when you become so interested in winning a technical in-fight that you kill off your own best Themes then you can’t be right.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #18
    • December 31, 2014, at 1:19 PM PST
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  19. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk andJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    James Pethokoukis: … and the rise of the Internet, which has reduced the isolation of unemployment …

    Waitaminute, I thought the evil Internet Service Providers were conspiring to keep the price of Internet service sky high, which is why we need net neutrality. How can the unemployed afford Internet access in such a dystopian environment?!

    ;-)

    • #19
    • December 31, 2014, at 2:25 PM PST
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  20. AIG Inactive

    Michael Minnott: I think you are arguing past everyone. No one here is arguing against legal immigration of high skilled workers such as chemical engineers.

    You’d be surprised.

    Michael Minnott: You make some valid points regarding the structural problems that have come about over the years, and I don’t think anyone here here does not see that the Republicans have their dirty fingerprints on it along with the Dems.

    You’d be surprised.

    Michael Minnott: I do think you are too quick to dismiss skilled tradesmen as a viable alternative to the college path

    I’m not dismissing that. If people want to be plumbers, all the more power to them.

    I’m dismissing people who say you…shouldn’t…go to college. That’s a different argument.

    Michael Minnott: and I am skeptical that good paying jobs go unfilled due to people being tied to their homes

    There’s evidence of that happening. Labor immobility is one of the biggest problems: people simply aren’t willing or able to move to where the jobs are.

    Michael Minnott: However, mass immigration of unskilled workers in our country is just not feasible. I couldn’t agree more that we shouldn’t have a welfare state, but we do, however foolishly.

    Adding the word “mass” in front of it, doesn’t change the issue.

    Whether these people should be…immigrants…to this country or simply be provided with work visas, is a conversation worth having.

    On the other hand, we can’t afford NOT to have low-skilled people come work here, if “we” ourselves are not willing to do those jobs.

    We get the worst of both worlds: both a Welfare state and a lack of people to do the service jobs which we all want done.

    I’m advocating for the best of both worlds: end the Welfare state, and have people who are willing to do those jobs.

    Michael Minnott: Aggravating that is we’re not just paying for the public services your 2 landscapers consume, but also for their wives, kids, parents (of both spouses) and other assorted extended family members that they bring with them.

    1) Those 2 Mexican landscapers do more work than a dozen black men in my neighborhood, combined. I’m not sure they’re not “contributing” to our economy, far more than the latter.

    2) Mexican laborers are disproportionately single males.

    3) They may or may not be paying taxes…but that doesn’t mean they don’t contribute to the economy. They contribute quite a lot, in fact, in the reduced prices for services we all utilize daily. The same cannot be said for a large chunk of the existing permanent US population.

    Michael Minnott: This makes the apparent low cost of those landscapers the result of a de facto subsidy from your fellow tax payers, a case of concentrated benefit, but distributed cost.

    I don’t see that. You’re making the assumption that those 2 Mexican laborers use more “government benefits” than the 2 dozen black men hanging around my neighborhood.

    Not only is that highly unlikely, but they also contribute a lot more than the latter, whether or not they pay taxes.

    • #20
    • January 1, 2015, at 4:58 PM PST
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  21. AIG Inactive

    Michael Minnott: Back to the main topic, I suspect much of the low labor participation is due to 3 things: 1) Boomers retiring, taking early retirement, or disability (essentially early retirement by other means). 2) Women realizing that the feminist promise of “career fulfillment”only served to trap them in lame jobs they can’t stand, so they have taken this opportunity to flee the galley slavery of cubicle-ville. 3) A generation of Millenials woefully ill-educated and unprepared for adulthood and gainful employment.

    Points 1 and 2 may very well be true.

    We can look at numbers for that, but I don’t think those numbers will back up what you’re saying.

    “Boomers” seem to be increasing their labor participation rate, even if the overall rate is much lower than the rest of the population.

    Civilian_Labor_Force_Participation_Rate_by_Age

    I’m not sure what the numbers on women say, but we can look at that too.

    #3 I would disagree with. Returns on college education have increased, and are steadily increasing, over the years.

    g3

    There is indeed a “skill gap” at play here, but I don’t think it’s the “millennial” that are the issue.

    All we have to do is look at which industries are experiencing persistent unemployment. It’s mainly the construction industries, for obvious reasons.

    Being a plumber, doesn’t seem like such a good idea after all ;)

    • #21
    • January 1, 2015, at 5:02 PM PST
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  22. AIG Inactive

    Fake John Galt: But none of the people I am talking about were GM workers or autoworkers at all or even union workers. Nor are they lazy or untrained or untrainable or unwilling to work since they are now doing jobs making a fraction what they did since their jobs are now gone. It is just in a good economy there were jobs available that allowed them to make good money in a bad economy there is not. We are in a bad economy.

    Or it could be that the people you know, aren’t willing to move to where the jobs are.

    As I said earlier, the US economy experiences about a 20% turnover in positions every year. That’s huge. That means that the ability to move to where the jobs are is critical…if you want to have a successful career.

    It’s also impossible to do if you’re burdened with a massive mortgage that may be underwater.

    Mark Krikorian: The thing is that public policy doesn’t exist for the benefit of your lawn. If there are a dozen Americans (whatever their color) standing around doing nothing while two foreigners (whatever their origin) are working, that is indeed a problem. But how does importing more foreigners fix that?

    If public policy isn’t about me, then what is it about? 

    What’s the “problem” here? I need those services done, those 2 dozen men standing by the gas station aren’t willing to do it, while these 2 guys are.

    Seems to me that is the solution.

    Mark Krikorian: Or, maybe the way to think about it is to ask what do we see as the problem? Is it that you can’t find good landscaping help (most people mow their own lawns, BTW)? If so, then importing docile, industrious, and obedient foreigners can be the solution.

    When I say “my lawn”, I’m editorializing :)

    I live in a townhouse, and share common grounds with other townhouses, and the common grounds are kept by a company which we pay some money to. I can’t do my own lawn, since it’s not technically mine.

    But, you’re absolutely right! And that was my point too. Those 2 Mexican laborers are tremendously hard working, very polite, industrious (they are running their own business after all), “docile”, “obedient” etc. Especially compared to the…permanent Americans…which I just described, who are not willing or able to do this work.

    Mark Krikorian: But if the problem is that a dozen Americans are sitting around not working (and the welfare, tax, family, and even crime problems that likely stem from that fact), then importing more foreigners — however industrious and obedient — isn’t going to fix the problem,

    No it’s not. Getting Welfare reform, will fix that.

    Mark Krikorian: and is likely going to make it worse, as their presence induces even more Americans to drop out of the labor force.

    It’s matter of balancing.

    People say we can’t have immigration of low skilled workers because of Welfare. But because of Welfare, we can’t get people to do the work of low skilled workers.

    So we get both Welfare, and lack of people to provide these services. That’s not a good solution to anything.

    These 2 Mexican guys, at least, are doing the work that needs to be done. They’re taking care of 1 side of the equation.

    Mark Krikorian: In other words, immigration policy is a place where civic-mindedness is necessary, rather than simply individuals’ desire for cheap servants. And that might well be the primary reason it’s so hard to address.

    I have no “civic mindedness” when it comes to the 2 dozen men standing around the gas station. They are not my responsibility, I have no responsibility to pay more for services that they are unwilling to provide, nor do I have the responsibility to forego those services for the benefit of those 2 dozen men.

    What you’re advocating here is precisely the same logic as Liberals: because of the “poor” you have to give up some of your benefits to subsidize them. Despite the fact that those “poor” are unwilling to work.

    • #22
    • January 1, 2015, at 5:13 PM PST
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  23. AIG Inactive

    James Gawron: You are worried too much about any anti-Obama anti-Dem rhetoric on Ricochet

    No I’m worried that real debate on real issues is foregone with the rubber-stamp answer of “It’s Obama’s fault”. Well, that’s not an explanation or an answer to anything.

    James Gawron: Man does not live by PhD thesis alone. We need a little fire in the belly too.

    You’d get a lot better arguments, and a lot better understanding, if you read some of those PhD theses.

    Fire in your belly isn’t particularly useful on it’s own.

    James Gawron: If we gear ourselves to an attitude that assumes only people with advanced degrees deserve a job and those with multiple advanced degrees deserve the best job, we are never going to win an election.

    I don’t care about an election.

    Is winning an election going to put food on my table? Is it going to get me a job?

    Nope.

    You’re of course making a straw-man argument here in saying that “only these people deserve…” I never said that. I said that the US economy competes on high tech and innovation, and hence those are the sort of careers that will pay off more, and we should be focusing on.

    People need to have money to hire a…plumber. Plumbers don’t run the economy. They service it.

    James Gawron: Everything can not be a Theme. However, when you become so interested in winning a technical in-fight that you kill off your own best Themes then you can’t be right.

    This is about “themes” in fact, not about technical details.

    The “theme” populist “conservatives” are putting forth is: idealize “average Joe the Plumber”. And most of the “policy” prescriptions they devise, follow this logic. How do we make things more comfortable for “average Joe”.

    My “theme” is, don’t idealize “average Joe”. America isn’t about being “average”. America is about idealizing “exceptional Joe!

    We’re the Party of…exceptional Joe…not of average Joe. Average Joe’s Party is the Democratic Party. They’re whole focus is on making things as comfortable, as noncompetitive, as stable for “average Joe”.

    That’s not my Party. That’s not my “conservatism”.

    • #23
    • January 1, 2015, at 5:27 PM PST
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  24. James Gawron Thatcher
    James GawronJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    AIG,

    I don’t care about an election.

    Then you can not have a democracy. You will not have rights, the rule of law, and everything that goes with it. There will be no productive free market economy to provide you with the high paying job that you assume your degrees entitle you to.

    I have never told anyone not to go to college. However, when getting a higher degree becomes an end in itself to the destruction of all other considerations it becomes an abomination. Current campus culture (if you can call it that) is the result. If you are immune due to some lucky genetic trait then more power to you. However, the average 19 year old is being subjected to an immensely perverse environment. An argument that presupposes that all of this is OK because you’ll net more in the long run is corrupt at its foundations.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #24
    • January 1, 2015, at 5:49 PM PST
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  25. RedRules Inactive

    AIG:

    James Pethokoukis: The issue is that too little of the recent gains from technological advance and economic growth have gone toward giving people the time and resources to enjoy their lives outside work.

    That’s clearly not true. Considering that today almost…everything…that one might consider as “enjoying life” costs substantially less than it did in decades ago.

    The main reason for the long-term/permanent unemployment is that…a lot of these people were just slack. They weren’t very productive in the first place.

    When times are good, companies can afford to keep “slack” around, primarily because it is costly to try and remove them. Some level of “unproductivity” is tolerated. But the recession forced them to remove most of these unproductive people…and now they see no reason to hire them back again.

    Which is why productivity per worker has soared in the US (far above any other nation).

    Which is why…skills…are so important. Which is why all the nonsense about “don’t go to college” etc. which has become so popular among certain populist “conservatives”, is just about the worst thing imaginable to do.

    Longing for the days when “HS graduates could make $40/hour” is pointless, not only because there never were such “good old days”, but because thanks to the elimination of those “good old days”, things cost so much cheaper now.

    But, saying all this, eliminates the need for “policy prescriptions” ;) How can there be anything in life that doesn’t require a “policy”?

    Of course you’ve seen all the writing about all the college grad’s working fast food…. or other jobs outside of the field of study they got a degree in. So really, what you are saying, is that *Skills* are important. And I know you would agree that college is just one place where you get *skills*. And of course you know that vocational schools and other non-college places can provide extremely valuable *skills*. So your little dig at “conservatives” is a little un-called for.

    • #25
    • January 2, 2015, at 1:59 PM PST
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  26. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White MaleJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    AIG:

    The “theme” populist “conservatives” are putting forth is: idealize “average Joe the Plumber”. And most of the “policy” prescriptions they devise, follow this logic. How do we make things more comfortable for “average Joe”.

    It’s not a question of “idealizing” Joe the Plumber. It’s pointing out that one can have a very happy and successful life doing jobs that don’t require college [and it’s a lot easier to outsource to China the average college-degree-requiring job than it is your average plumber/electrician/barber job].

    Should everybody be a plumber? Of course not. Should everybody be a Chemical Engineer? Also of course not.

    Yes, the US economy competes on innovation. But it has never been the case through US history that more than a very tiny fraction of the population has driven that innovation.

    Should some people go to college? of course. Should most people go to college? I would argue no. Some of the dumbest people I ever met, I met in college. Some of the smartest never attended at all, or never finished.

    • #26
    • January 2, 2015, at 4:02 PM PST
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  27. Randy Webster Member

    Miffed White Male:[Could] everybody be a plumber? Of course not. [Could] everybody be a Chemical Engineer? Also of course not.

    Should some people go to college? of course. Should most people go to college? I would argue no. Some of the dumbest people I ever met, I met in college. Some of the smartest never attended at all, or never finished.

    Fixed a little bit of it for you.

    • #27
    • January 2, 2015, at 6:16 PM PST
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