Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Unemployment's Real Scope and Its Denied Contributing Causes

Despite improvement in unemployment rate, America’s workforce remains ill-prepared to compete with the world

Julian L. Alssid 
Posted on Workforce Developments web site by Bronwyn Mauldin on February 08, 2010

The unemployment rate fell below 10 percent in January to 9.7 percent. While this is positive news and a sign the stimulus may be kicking in, the mismatch between employer needs and the education and skills of much of the workforce remains.  (Click on the link above for the whole article.)

Starting with the media-friendly, official unemployment rate trend draws a false picture because its salient point is a decline, whereas we are left in the dark regarding the real trend that includes the discouraged and the underemployed.  Although Julian Alssid explains that the published rate is not the real rate, he fails to identify the trend of the "real" rate.

Tangent notes:
  • I suspect that the "discouraged" include those who are not really discouraged, but rather have fallen under the radar because they have depleted their UIB.  I wonder, does it include black market employment such as undocumented of illegal immigrants?  And does it exclude full-time students?
  • The trend of the unemployment rate also misleads if it includes growth in government.  A true stimulus must stimulate the economy as reflected by private employment.  Growth in government, such as hiring people to man new bureaucracies and to take the census, can mask the effects of stimulus legislation with false indicators of success.  Alssid's speculation that a declining unemployment rate is, therefore, unjustified.
I also suspect that we're missing a significant factor that contributes to the vocational education gap: the balkanization of our population.  Two major in-your-face groups live in my area.  Many in the urban Black subculture suffer an entitlement mentality and a set of fears (some legitimate, some self-prophetic) that encourage division and discouragement.  The resulting dialects and counter-cultural behavior (such as wearing the fashions of violent gangs) cause further isolation, friction, and hindrance to vocational success.

On the government's side, we continue to emphasize divisive affirmative action when we ought to moved on toward voluntary (not forced) integration and reconciliation.  (As one unintended consequence, White males not otherwise inclined to racism can easily react to being shoved aside in favor of those "less qualified" often react with bitterness and discouragement.)  Such attitudes and divisiveness can form insurmountable hindrances to gaining the knowledge and skill needed for success.

The other hard-to-miss subculture (actually, a group of subcultures) consists of a mixture of legal, illegal, temporary, and loophole immigrants (e.g., the "anchor baby" phenomenon), isolated by language barriers and many of the same problems that hold back the urban Black subculture.  Most legal immigrants commit to integrating into the culture at large.  They provide valuable contributions to our country.  Many, especially those who come via non-legal ways, however, make no such commitment.  Fear of immigration police, intention to return home, familial roles, and for Latinos, ancestral claim to the American Southwest, reinforce social barriers that isolate them from better education and vocational success.

Since the recent collapse of the lending and housing bubbles, news about current immigration trends has become scarce; but before that, the trend was rapidly upward.  The trade-offs between the benefits of having a diverse population and the cost, in divisiveness, self-imposed repression, and resultant social costs such as crime and dependency on the tax-payer, of providing incentives and protection for illegal immigration point to major flaws in the political left's platform.

The majority culture deserves much blame.  Parents lay the foundation for education with their examples, their values, and the quality of learning environment that they provide for their children.  Government usurps too much responsibility and too many parents willingly surrender it.  The mechanisms range from government's role as an enabler of broken homes to its hostility toward parental involvement and traditional values.  Ironically, our culture takes blame upon itself that it ought to address to the people and subcultures that exacerbate the problems.  (That is, we deserve blame because we excuse self-defeating behavior by blaming ourselves too much.)

We need to identify the true scope of unemployment and set aside our fears (for example, my fear of being called a racist for what I've said here) of identifying the causes.  We won't make substantial and permanent progress until we face the problem honestly and determine to move beyond our sympathies and resentments.

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