More on Labor Day and the Future of American Jobs

It’s early — even for me — on the Sunday morning of a long holiday weekend. And while I am waiting to hit the concrete for my five-mile run, I’m doing what most people do these days: I’m scanning all the info (news sites, blogs, weather channels, e-mail, Twitter and so on) online. See NYT: “Breakfast Can Wait. The Day’s First Stop Is Online.”

Well, I’m still about four or five hours away from breakfast. But you get the point. By the time the news delivery guy Bruce thumps the dead-tree editions of the newspapers I take on Sundays (Akron Beacon Journal, The Plain Dealer, The New York Times) I have a sense of what’s going on in at least some part of the digital world.

And following the theme of my post Friday, as you would expect on the Labor Day weekend, plenty is being written this weekend about jobs and the American workforce. It ain’t all positive. And there clearly are some trends that have big implications for the future — both in the next few months and in the years ahead — of American workers, our economy and our national prosperity.

I mentioned two Friday: the fact that baby boomers like me are delaying retirement and that women are quickly edging past men in terms of being the majority of the workforce.

Here are a few others:

The New York Times reported Saturday that teenage unemployment now stands at more than 25 percent — largest ever. Or, as the article states, the percentage of teenagers currently working is at the lowest level ever. Ouch. And a big problem. Not just for those young people who want to work but can’t find a job. But for the economy long term since young people have traditionally learned skills — personal and technical — in these jobs that carried over into education and jobs as adults.

Also, the article by Catherine Rampell, points out:

Recent college graduates, unable to find higher-paying jobs, are working at places like Starbucks and Gap, taking jobs once held by their younger peers. Half of college graduates under age 25 are in jobs that do not require college degrees, the highest portion in at least 18 years, Mr. Sum [Andrew W. Sum, economics prof at Northeastern University] said.

And another interesting trend about American jobs: a large number of us are now “independent workers.”

Leanne Chase in her excellent Connecting Career and Life blog writes that 30 percent of the workforce are independent workers — described in a Washington Times article as “part-time workers, the self-employed, contractors, temporary workers, leased workers and on-call employees.”

As we celebrate Labor Day and American workers this weekend, it’s important to consider all of these trends that are dramatically influencing the nature of work and the workforce in this country. And that have public and private policy implications in areas ranging from health care to paid leave to retirement income and stability and so on.

First we need to find jobs for the nearly 15 million (and growing) in this country who are out of work this Labor Day weekend.

OK. Off for my run.


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