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Reflections


White House's Overflowing In Box

by Ralph R. Reiland,
Professor of Free Enterprise at Robert Morris University
 

No matter whether it's Trump or Clinton who wins the election, the victor will be confronted with an inbox brimming over with acute social and economic difficulties.

Nevertheless, regarding unemployment, the latest jobs report from the Department of Labor, issued October 7, recapped September's economic performance and portrayed the following semi-buoyant state of affairs: "Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 156,000 in September, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 5.0 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today."

Conversely, the Labor Department's report also verified the weakening level of job creation in the U.S. economy: "Thus far this year, job growth has averaged 178,000 per month, compared with an average of 229,000 per month in 2015."

Reporting the level of joblessness by the millions, the Labor Department stated the following: "The unemployment rate, at 5.0 percent, and the number of unemployed persons, at 7.9 million, changed little in September. Both measures have shown little movement, on net, since August of last year."

Setting the official number of unemployed persons in the U.S. economy at 7.9 million adds up to a huge undercounting of the actual the level of U.S. joblessness and a far-reaching case of public sector malfeasance, as evidenced by the jobless figures contained in recent column, "Men Need Help. Is Hillary Clinton the Answer?" October 21, 2016, by Susan Chira, a senior correspondent and editor on gender issues for The New York Times.

"If Hillary Clinton wins this election and becomes the first female president of the United States, American men may well be one of her most urgent problems," writes Ms. Chira. "Consider some startling statistics: More than a fifth of American men – about 20 million people – between 20 and 65 had no paid work last year." That 20 million with no work is more than double the official jobless number of 7.9 million.

Continues Chira, "Seven million men between 25 and 55 are no longer even looking for work, twice as many black men as white." None of those seven million unemployed individuals are counted as unemployed by the Labor Department because they've not been sufficiently active in looking for work in the previous four weeks. Rather than being counted as unemployed, they're authoritatively pigeon-holed by the D.C. bureaucracy as "discouraged" rather than jobless.

"There are 20 million men with felony records who are not in jail, with dim prospects of employment, and more of these are black men," reports Chira, while also citing forecasts of higher levels of unemployment on the horizon: "Lawrence H. Summers, the former Treasury secretary and now a professor of economics at Harvard, estimates that a third of men between 25 and 54 without college educations could be out of work by midcentury."

Similarly, women in the workforce are not exempt from the insecurities and joblessness being doled out in the labor market. "Economists and scholars have assembled a trove of disturbing data about the plight of men, even as they acknowledge that women's employment has stalled for the past 15 years as well," writes Chira.

Regrettably, the seemingly endless months of backbiting in the election focusing on Trump's incivility and the Clinton staff's practice of smashing her communication devices with hammers will do nothing to fix the problem of this increasingly marginalized and dispirited workforce.

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Ralph R. Reiland is an Associate Professor of Economics Emeritus at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.

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Ralph R. Reiland
412-779-7583
Email: rrreiland@aol.com


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