Outlook for Job Market? Bah, Humbug

One man's opinion. And it's a strong one.

Downsized: Unemployed Businessman
Getty Images/Vetta

It's easy to be anesthetized by the government's telling us the job market is getting better. But your appropriate reaction should be, "Bah, humbug!" Only people who believe in Santa Claus could think the employment situation is getting better, let alone is good.

The reported unemployment rate is grossly misleading because it counts as employed such people as the former middle-incomer who now makes minimum wage. Through the so-called recovery, median household income in real dollars continues to plummet. The reported unemployment rate is misleading also because it doesn't count the millions of discouraged workers who've reached the maximum number of unemployment checks or who couldn't convince the unemployment office they've been looking for work. Instead of the "unemployment rate," consider the Alternate Unemployment Rate, which includes those long-term unemployed workers. It has risen to 23.2 percent, an all-time high.

And things will get worse, much worse.

Most of U.S. job growth is in two areas. First, there are the jobs you probably don't want: low-paying, menial work, for example, butt-wiping as a home health aide. Then there are the jobs requiring brilliance, for example, developing mathematical models as a biomedical engineer. Countless Americans won't be able to find decent-paying work.

Making matters worse, the cost of employing an American is among the world's highest. On top of ObamaCare, there's Worker's Compensation, Social Security, Medicare, Social Security, Disability Insurance, sick days, vacation days, Family and Medical Leave Act (paid leave in California and New Jersey) the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the costs of defending the ever-growing wrongful termination and other employee claims. It's no surprise that U.S. employers are automating, part-timing, and offshoring as many jobs as possible, and making as many of the rest temp jobs or unpaid internships.

Indeed, automation will destroy ever more jobs.

Some of the world's smartest companies-Google, Amazon, and UPS--are investing big in developing robots and driverless vehicles, including drone delivery. That will put millions of truck, cab, train, and bus drivers out of work.

Fast-food workers may wrest higher salaries but will find their victory Pyrrhic as companies find it cheaper and more reliable to use robotic servers and preparers. Some fast-food restaurants in Japan and Europe are already doing that.

All Work And No Pay

Building construction is another major employer. But as explained in the cover story of January 2014's Popular Science, How to Print a House, it's only a matter of time until buildings can be stamped out by machine, perhaps by 3-D printer, thereby eliminating millions more jobs.

Even many retail sales jobs will go away. IBM is developing a virtual clothing salesperson who will "listen" to you and your measurements and make recommendations that are likely better than what you'd get from your typical $10-an-hour salesperson.

According to MIT jobs guru Andrew McAfee, even some of the work formerly done by physicians, lawyers, and accountants will be performed by computerized expert systems. Already, much legal discovery and x-ray/MRI review are offshored to India, and many corporate tax returns are prepared in the Philippines.

So what's this all going to cause?

1. Already 47 million Americans are on food stamps, the most in history. That's one-sixth of the country. And per the chart at that link, the number is growing.

2. U.S. median earnings will decline toward the world average of $18,000 a year.

3. Fear of social unrest as well as egalitarian impulses will push government to keep extending the unemployment checks. Government will also expand "soak the rich" taxation in which the top 5 percent already pay 59 percent of the income tax to "soak the (shrunken) middle class." ObamaCare will give way to single-payer health care. Marijuana will be legalized to anesthetize the masses. Oh, that's exactly what we need a less motivated, more memory-impaired workforce.

4. People will be forced to live on less--like 100 square feet per person. Many people will have to give up their car in favor of mass transit. Recreation will descend from $100 football tickets and 8-day/7-night fly-away vacations to at-home TV watching and staycations. Wal-Mart and thrift stores will become go-to stores for all but the 1%ers.

5. Ever more taxpayer-paid jobs will be created, eating the nation's seed corn. Eventually, the largely anti-business public schools will recognize that only entrepreneurship can create sustainable new jobs, so some of the arcana-larded K-16 curriculum (geometric theorems, exploration of the Peloponnesian Wars, etc.) will be replaced by entrepreneurship education. That will create some jobs but not enough.

America will have to get used to being just another "developing" nation.

Some would say that a less materialistic America will be a net good: less environmental degradation and people being forced to find contentment in relationships and creative endeavors instead of Coach purses. Yeah, but have you tried living on $18,000 a year? Think you'd really like it?

What's this Scrooge's appraisal of the job market at Christmas present and especially at Christmas future? Bah, humbug!

Lunchtime Live: What You Need To Know About Careers Of The Future

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

Here is a list of your congress people to contact if you want to see Extended Benefits Funded
clearly we should not blame Santa for our leaders lack of concern for the citizens who voted them into their jobs



December 27 2013 at 11:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What the writer didn't mention (and he should have) is that Walmart is a huge part of this problem.

WM is America's largest employer, and the company is well known for paying poverty wages. These poorly paid employees sign up for every government assistance program they can qualify for. The result of this is that every Walmart Super Store has an employee work force that is costing American taxpayers a million dollars PER STORE every year to fund these assistance programs for WM employees.

Walmart is opening these super stores as fast as it can, and the company is notorious for fighting every effort to get it to pay a living wage to employees.

Years ago, there used to be a popular saying of -- "As GM goes, so goes America". At the time, GM was the largest employer in the U.S. Now, Walmart is the largest employer.

If you think that slogan can also be applied to Walmart, the future does not look bright for America.

December 27 2013 at 2:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Employees for years believe that their employers are filthy rich, and if you read the article and realized that your employer is paying all of these taxes and fees and has to stay competitive with like business's. I found it interesting when the fast food workers actually believe that they are worth !5.00 dollars an hour, and complain about what they are paid, but what these same employees don't tll you is, most are on sections 8, wic, liheap, snap, ebt cards and of course the infamous Obamaphone. Do the math and these people are not poor as they would like you to think. Fact is, they are living better than the poor slob that works two or more jobs. Now Obama wants to bring what he calls immigration reform, but what it truly is, AMNESTY for illegals. Now these people will take American born citizens jobs. When those of us object, we are called racists, but the race card i used for anything that liberals don't have an answer for. Your American born children are going to be net losers if this immigration reform, AMNESTY passes. So, American workers, keep puching and your worst nightmare will happen. You will be jobless, and yes you will have Obamacare, but lose your home because your demands are unrealistic.

December 27 2013 at 1:50 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Michael Martel

Totally agree. Our biggest crisis is promoting the idea that every young person should go to college and not having jobs to support their debt afterward.

We have a huge disparity in wealth between those making in the high six figures and everyone else. As you write, the bubble is about to burst and people are going to start to realize there is no chance in hell of them every making good money.

December 26 2013 at 9:59 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Search Articles

Picks From the Web