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Bert Dirschell

Centertown

Dear Editor:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics just released another stellar jobs report, 225,000 new jobs in January. The unemployment rate did tick up slightly, to 3.6 percent, but that was because of an uptick in the number of new people entering the workforce, plus those reentering it.

Year-over-year wage gains for production and non-supervisory workers were 3.3 percent. During the three-year period from January 2017 January 2020, their wages increased by 9.4 percent. Last December CBS reported that "the 25 percent lowest-paid Americans enjoyed a 4.5 percent income boost in November." "That outpaced the 2.9 percent gain in earnings for the country's highest-paid workers."

The Labor Force Participation Rate ticked up slightly to 63.4 and the Employment-Population also ticked up slightly to 61.2. We still have a long way to go to get those numbers back up to what they were a generation ago. Then the Labor Force Participation Rate was over 67 and Employment-Population Ratio was over 63. Even a 1 percentage point increase in those numbers would add 2.6 million people to the ranks of the employed. We need lots more people willing to work to fill the 6.8 million job openings the BLS reported available at the end of November 2019.

Inflation-adjusted median household income hit a record high of $63,179 in 2018. It was 3.6 percent higher than the precession high in 2007, and 13 percent higher than in 1995, adjusted for inflation. One has to wonder what incentives, or perhaps disincentives, it is going to take to move more people from the ranks of those not looking for a job to those at least looking. Lack of education funding shouldn't be preventing people from gaining skills to make them employable; U.S. taxpayers pay more for primary and secondary education than any of the other G20 nations.

If you are upset over "income inequality," the U.S. is the "Land of Opportunity." Make the sacrifices to improve your skills so that you can get a better-paying job.

The DOW, the NASDAQ and the S&P 500 have soared over the past several years. Nearly 70 percent of private sector workers, and nearly all public workers, have access to pension plans. The value of these plans has grown substantially as a result rise in stock prices.

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