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Mark Caserta: America's future depends on jobs

Sep. 12, 2013 @ 08:16 AM

For years, the condition of the U.S. labor force has been a primary indicator of the direction of our nation's economy. Arguably, the ability to sustain one's future without government assistance is integral to success in America.

Those understanding the true nature of the U.S. jobs market are troubled by the "picture of promise" painted by the Obama administration considering the future of the U.S. economy is increasingly being determined by the government's ability to capture Americans in their "custodial net."

Of primary concern is our nation's shrinking labor force.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2008, roughly 66 percent of Americans had a job or were actively seeking work. Today, that number has fallen to 63.2 percent -- the lowest level since 1978.

Now, some argue the participation rate has dropped due to demographic trends superseding the entry of new workers into the labor force. But this has much more to do with the availability of jobs than it does the lack of potential workers.

President Obama often boasts of his "jobs creation" in the U.S., but avoids the real impact felt by Americans.

Invariably the only supportive data heralded by the administration is the current unemployment rate, which was reported at 7.3 percent in August. While this appears to be an improvement over the 54 straight months of unemployment at 7.5 percent or higher under President Obama, one must remember this reported rate only includes those workers actively seeking work.

If the same percentage of adults were in the workforce today as when Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be 10.8 percent!

One fact never included is the impact of "part-time" jobs on this reported jobs rate.

Based on a House Ways and Means Committee study, the economy has added seven times more part-time jobs than it has created full-time jobs under President Obama. Since January 2009, the country has added a net total of 270,000 full-time jobs, but has added 1.9 million part-time jobs.

As the 40 hour work week begins to disappear under Obamacare (which requires employers to provide health coverage to full-time workers) this number could increase exponentially!

When factoring in Americans working part-time for economic reasons, along with those marginally attached to the labor force, the actual percentage of unemployed/underemployed Americans increases to 13.6%!

The fact is many people have just become discouraged, "crumpled up" their resumes and gone home. Others have weighed their options and determined they couldn't afford to support their family or pay their bills in the current jobs market and have been forced to look to the government for sustenance.

According to the USDA, the number of people using food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has increased from 28 million people in 2008 to nearly 48 million people under President Obama.

Abe Lincoln said, "This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it."

But I'm concerned our increasing dependence upon government could eventually overturn that ownership -- and make us the property of the government.

America's future depends on jobs.

Mark Caserta is a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

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