Some time back I heard some undocumented â€œfactoidâ€ that half the population of the U.S. was something like two paychecks away from being homeless. These days that seems more real that apocryphal.
For Richard Crane, the “new normal” in the labor market began when he was laid off from a New Jersey battery plant in the summer of 2006.
Mr. Crane had been earning more than $100,000 a year operating heavy machinery at Delco, a former unit of General Motors. He worked there for 23 years, since graduating from high school. But when he lost his job he was thrust into a netherworld of part-time gigs: working the registers at Taco Bell, organizing orders at McDonald’s, whatever he could find.
“I thought it would be temporary,” says Mr. Crane, 49 years old. Three years later, he is selling outdoor furniture by day and pumping gas by night, while worrying about his skills atrophying and spending scant time with his teenage son. He makes about a third of his former pay.
For more on this, I refer you to todayâ€™s Wall Street Journal:
Federal figures on the underemployed, however, don’t count that second group — those who are overqualified for their jobs. Still, the government’s broadest measure of labor underutilization — known as the U6 — has more than doubled in the two years since the recession began to 17.5%, and it is up from 12% just a year ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This means that nearly one in five people are either unemployed, involuntarily working part-time or “marginally attached” — they want jobs but haven’t searched in at least a month. It also counts “discouraged workers” who have stopped searching.
I know that this is scary sh#t, and well, I donâ€™t know what can be done about it, but truthfully, Iâ€™d feel a lot safer if we spent less money fighting two overseas wars that we simply can never win, and brought those folk home so that we could re-invest that same amount of money here at home.
No, Iâ€™m not an isolationist, and I know that we need to protect ourselves, but seriously, we are really only hurting ourselves.