May 25, 2024

Missing Jobs and Miserable Lives

The great financial crash of 2008 resulted in over eight million jobs disappearing in a little over a year.   As orders evaporated and sales plunged, companies quickly slashed labor costs in order to remain profitable.

Previous recessions have caused unemployment to soar but the ensuing recoveries always resulted in a strong economic rebound and the creation of millions of new jobs.  This time is different, with job creation far below the levels needed to reduce the unemployment rate to acceptable levels.

Eight years after the start of the 2008 economic meltdown, the economy has still not been able to replace jobs that were lost.  Since 2008, total employment is still 2.5 million jobs lower than it was eight years ago and most economists don’t see a full jobs recovery until maybe 2015.

The optimists will look at the job picture and rightfully claim that the economy has produced six million jobs since 2010.  The problem with that view is that job creation has not been high enough to recapture jobs lost in 2008-2009, never mind producing jobs to account for population growth.

Courtesy: Wall Street Journal

Courtesy: Wall Street Journal

The severe job losses resulting from the financial crisis has left millions of Americans with a bleak picture.  Many of those who lost their jobs did not get them back.  Workers over the age of 40 and unemployed for over a year have entered a twilight zone where the prospects for employment have dimmed to the point of hopelessness.  Millions of people who lost their jobs and ran out of unemployment benefits have turned to filing for social security disability benefits.  This desperate tactic just about guarantees a miserable life of low income and personal esteem.  These people will never work again unless they are able to succeed at self employment.

Even more tragic is the plight of young Americans who have been unable to find a job.  Over 1.5 million young Americans have dropped out of the labor force with many still living at home and returning to college to get another degree while hoping that the job market improves.  Arguably, the best and most productive part of many peoples’ lives are being wasted getting another degree which may be of little value while running up huge amounts of student debt.

The future is always tough to figure out.  For many middle aged unemployed Americans, there will be no future as we used to know it.  And young high school graduates heading off to college need to pick more realistic majors that can lead to well paying jobs after graduation.  The American Dream is still possible but for many people it’s become a lot harder to achieve.

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