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Your Opinion: Why aren’t more people working?

Your Opinion: Why aren’t more people working?

April 10th, 2019 in Opinion

Bert Dirschell


Dear Editor:

The April 5 Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation Summary provides more evidence that virtually everyone who wants a job has one, especially when this report is combined with the last Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey which showed a record high 7.6 million job openings.

Not only are more jobs available, wages are going up. Over the past 12 months average hourly earnings have increased by 3.2 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 6 cents to $23.24 in March.

Prior to the beginning of the recession, October 2006 – February 2007, the Labor Force Participation Rate averaged 66.4, With the exception of one month it was 67.0 or above from October 1996 – June 2000. It is currently an abysmal 63.0.

The Civilian Noninstitutional Population has increased 28 percent since October 1996 while the number of people who aren’t even bothering to look for work has increased by 44 percent.

With the trillions spent on Medicaid, OSHA, the CDC, the FDA, the USDA (food stamps), etc. during the past generation we should have the healthiest people, and the safest work environments, in our history. Why are so many not working?

From 1996-2017 “human resources” spending, exclusive of Social Security and Medicare, increased from $434.4 billion to $1,357.1 billion. A subset of this spending, “Medicaid & Other Means Tested Entitlements” (this does not include Social Security nor Medicare), increased from $246.7 billion to $856.9 billion during this time.

The earned income tax credit isn’t included in the above figures. In 1999 the program reduced the taxes of low income tax filers by $4.3 billion and it paid another $27.6 billion directly to low income filers. By 2006, the numbers had increased to $9.6 billion and $57.1 billion respectively.

Is it possible that we are just getting more of the behavior that the federal government rewards?

In 1996, the feds collected $1.45 trillion from us and ran a $107 billion deficit. In 2017, they collected $3.32 trillion and ran a $665 billion deficit. The only reason for not returning control, and funding, of free stuff programs to the states is because we are willing to sell the future of our children and grandchildren to support our free stuff “habit.”