Millions shut out of job market
By Richard Webner Fri, Dec 12, 2014 @ 3:19 pm | updated Sat, Dec 13, 2014 @ 10:04 am
After losing her job as a secretary at Stein Mart in 2009, Alicia Bird looked for similar positions at companies like CSX and Baptist Medical Center. But she didn’t have any luck.
So she lowered her ambitions, applying to Publix, Winn-Dixie and Wal-Mart. Still, no offers, except a job cleaning bathrooms at Save-A-Lot, which her husband wouldn’t let her take.
As her unemployment stretched into months and years, she felt depressed, confused and angry, even with the support she got from her church and her dozens of nieces and nephews. Finally, she gave up.
“Why is it that after five years of looking, nobody wants me?” said Bird, of Jacksonville, who is 63. “It just doesn’t make sense.”
In the past 15 years, millions of Americans have left the workforce, causing the labor force participation rate — the share of American adults who either have a job or are looking for one — to fall from 67.1 percent in 2000 to 62.8 percent in November, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Some, like Bird, left out of frustration from not being able to find a job. Others left for personal reasons, including millions of Baby Boomers entering retirement.
The participation rate has been sliding since hitting a peak in the late ‘90s, when a flush economy sent businesses scrambling for workers. The decline steepened during the recession and the sluggish recovery. In a harsh job market, many Americans gave up their job searches after months or years of frustration, deciding instead to go to school, stay at home with their children or retire early.
“I’m not the type to get discouraged rapidly,” said Mac Hines, of Jacksonville, a former truck parts salesman who recently retired rather than continue his five-year job search. “I’m educated enough to do arithmetic. I know if it’s a waste of gas, why bother.”
The economy is improving — the unemployment rate has split nearly in half since the recession, and more jobs have been created so far in 2014 than in any year since 1999. But the labor force participation rate has remained stubbornly low. January’s rate of 62.5 percent was the lowest since April 1978.
In Florida, the participation rate has been lower than the national rate for decades, largely due to the state’s relatively old population, said Paul Mason, a professor at the Coggin College of Business at the University of North Florida.
Since 2007, Florida’s rate has dropped more sharply than the national rate, from 64.2 percent to 60.2 percent. The brutal impact of the housing crash might have driven Florida’s steep decline during those years, Mason said.
The shrinking portion of Americans in the labor force will have wide implications for the economy, experts say. A smaller labor force means slower economic growth and fewer contributors to programs like Social Security and Medicaid.
“When you have fewer people in the economy but you still need to feed everybody, clothe everybody, it gets harder and harder,” said Tara Sinclair, an associate professor of economics at George Washington University. “We’ve been talking about it for a long time, thinking about it for a long time, and it’s finally come, but I don’t think we’re prepared for it.”
IN RECESSION’S WAKE
The years before the housing crisis hit in 2007 were a time of optimism for Robert, of Jacksonville, who asked that his last name not be used out of concern it would hurt his family’s social standing. He owned a home inspection business in North Carolina, but it collapsed along with the housing market. He and his wife moved to Jacksonville, where she found an office job.
Over the next four years, Robert sent about a hundred resumes and registered with several employment websites. He got a few temporary jobs, helping with the 2010 U.S. Census and the clean-up after Tropical Storm Fay, but nothing permanent. Meanwhile, he struggled with loneliness, boredom and frustration. His lack of work threatened his sense of self-worth.
“They say that you’re more than your job, but in reality most people are their jobs,” Robert said. “It diminishes your whole picture of who you are.”
Finally, in 2010, he decided to stop looking and collect Social Security benefits early, even though that took a bite out of his monthly check.
During the recession, the number of workers like Robert who left the labor force out of discouragement skyrocketed — from 369,000 in 2007 to to 1.2 million in 2010, according to BLS data.
Since 2010, the number of discouraged workers has been on a shaky decline. So far this year, the number of Americans who have left the labor force out of discouragement has dropped from 837,000 to 762,000.
In some ways, things have become more difficult for the long-term unemployed as the economy has improved, said Candace Moody, who has worked at the CareerSource Northeast Florida employment agency for 17 years. They face more of a stigma, she said. During the worst of the recession, being unemployed for a long time wasn’t uncommon, but today, large gaps in applicants’ resumes stand out more.
“They start getting depressed, and it starts to show,” Moody said. “That can make it more difficult when they get into an interview situation.”
Many unemployed diminish their aspirations, looking for jobs with lower salaries than what they made before, Moody said. Employers then won’t hire them because of worries that they’ll leave the jobs when other opportunities arise.
LABOR FORCE IN FLUX
In historical terms, the recent decline in the participation rate is an anomaly. The percentage of Americans in the labor force was rising for most of the last century. In large part, that was due to a surge of women seeking careers: Since 1948, the percentage of women in the labor force has risen from 32.7 percent to 57.2 percent, according to BLS data.
The swollen Baby Boomer generation also raised the participation rate when it entered the workforce in the ‘60s and ‘70s, experts say. Forty years later, Baby Boomers are retiring. That’s responsible for about a third of the recent decline, said Jesse Rothstein, an associate professor of public policy and economics at the University of California, Berkeley.
Another factor in the decline is the shrinking share of young people in the workforce.
In the past 30 years, the percentage of 16- to 24-year-olds in the workforce has declined from 67.7 percent to 55 percent. That’s because young people are more likely to go to college these days, Sinclair said. They’re also less likely to take part-time jobs while they’re in college, opting instead to beef up their resumes with activities and internships.
Even while many retire, Baby Boomers help keep the participation rate up by staying in the workforce longer than previous generations. In 2013, 64.4 percent of 55- to 64-year-olds were in the labor force, up from 54.2 percent in 1984.
Some Baby Boomers are sticking around to repair the damage that the recession did to their bank accounts, Rothstein said. They also tend to be passionate about their careers.
That’s the case for Jacqueline Furlow, 67, who retired from her 49-year career in human resources in February. She enjoys having more free time, which allows her to take a leisurely walk every morning, a pleasure she used to limit to weekends. But she misses the stimulation and socialization of work. In a year or so, after she’s relaxed a bit, she plans to look for a part-time job.
“When you work for so long, for so many years, you reach a point that once you retire, you’re like, ‘What do I do now?’” said Furlow, of the west side. “I just think the mind becomes a little stale when you don’t exercise it.”
A NEW NORMALOb
Economists debate how much of the participation rate’s decline is due to the poor economy, and how much to demographic changes, Sinclair said. The amount caused by the recession is important: If the poor economy has caused the labor force to shrink, that means that the labor force could expand again when the economy improves.
For now, the economic recovery is luring some workers back into the labor force, offsetting the decline caused by retiring Baby Boomers. That’s helped send the labor force participation rate on a slow climb so far this year. Since January, the rate has risen slightly, from 62.5 percent to 62.8 percent.
But that trend might not last.
In a report on the labor market released in August, the Congressional Budget Office estimated the glut of discouraged workers will “largely disappear” over the next few years as the economy improves. But demographic trends will cause an overall decline by about half a percent by 2017, the report predicted. Next year could be a tipping point, Sinclair said, when the Baby Boomer stampede causes the labor force participation rate to resume its decline.
For his part, Robert still hopes he’ll work again. While he isn’t actively looking for a job, he’s heartened by signs of recovery in the economy. He might step back into the labor force soon.
He and his wife have had to cut back on food and entertainment, and their retirement plans have taken a hit. But unemployment has brought some benefits. It’s taught him to appreciate things more, he said.
“My attitude toward a lot of things has changed — toward people who collect food stamps and people who are unemployed,” he said. “When you’re on the other side, you get a lot of empathy for what’s going on.”
Pages 958 and 959 of the 1,603-page omnibus spending bill from House Speaker John Boehner include a provision that gives Social Security benefits to illegal aliens under President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty. Boehner’s gall is incredible as he basically caves to Obama’s so called executive order AKA amnesty:
The seemingly wonky legislative language in that relevant section reads:
None of the funds appropriated in this Act shall be expended or obligated by the Commissioner of Social Security, for purposes of administering Social Security benefit payments under title II of the Social Security Act, to process any claim for credit for a quarter of coverage based on work performed under a social security account number that is not the claimant’s number and the performance of such work under such number has formed the basis for a conviction of the claimant of a violation of section 208(a)(6) or (7) of the Social Security Act.
Right after Obama’s executive amnesty announcement, the White House confirmed to the Washington Post that illegal aliens who get amnesty from Obama—paid for by Boehner, and any Republican who votes for this omnibus bill—will have access to Social Security benefits.
By not including language saying that Social Security benefits can’t go to illegal aliens under the executive amnesty—just as they didn’t include language going after funding for the implementation of the executive amnesty itself—Republicans are completely surrendering, ensuring that millions of illegal aliens will get Social Security.
“Absent from this conversation is the reality that the Obama amnesty program requires departments and agencies throughout the whole government to implement,” a congressional GOP aide familiar with the legislation said in an email to Breitbart News. “By doing a long-term omnibus with Reid, instead of a short-term Continuing Resolution until January, Republicans are giving up all kinds of avenues for undoing the amnesty. A big one of those is the Social Security element. Appropriators made a decision not to include language in this section denying social security cards to those receiving SSN’s under the Obama amnesty regime, thereby allowing them to be sent out.”
Despite omitting language that would prohibit any funding for any part of Obama’s executive amnesty, congressional leaders did include 451 other times where they prohibited funding from being used for a given purpose. According to Roll Call’s White House correspondent Steven Dennis, the phrase “None of the funds” appears that many times throughout the bill.
Despite a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report that shows he was not being truthful, House Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) has told Republican members and the American people multiple times that Congress couldn’t block funding for Obama’s executive amnesty because the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency is primarily fee-funded.
But Rogers actually blocked—in this bill—another department’s fee-funded program from being implemented, proof that he’s not being truthful with Republican members he’s hoping will vote for this legislation.
On pages 82 and 83, for instance, Rogers blocks funds for a fee-based program.
That fee-based program funding blocking reads:
“None of the funds provided by this Act, or provided by previous Appropriations Acts to the agencies funded by this Act that remain available for obligation or expenditure in the current fiscal year, or provided from any accounts in the Treasury derived by the collection of fees available to the agencies funded by this Act, shall be available for obligation or expenditure through a reprogramming, transfer of funds, or reimbursements as authorized by the Economy Act, or in the case of the Department of Agriculture, through use of the authority provided by section 702(b) of the Department of Agriculture Organic Act of 1944 (7 U.S.C. 2257) or section 8 of Public Law 89–106 (7 U.S.C. 2263), that
(1) creates new programs;
(2) eliminates a program, project, or activity;
(3) increases funds or personnel by any means for any project or activity for which funds have been denied or restricted;
(4) relocates an office or employees;
(5) reorganizes offices, programs, or activities; or
(6) contracts out or privatizes any functions or activities presently performed by Federal employees;
unless the Secretary of Agriculture or the Secretary of Health and Human Services (as the case may be) notifies in writing and receives approval from the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress at least 30 days in advance of the reprogramming of such funds or the use of such authority.”
Another GOP aide said he’s not surprised Boehner caved to Obama’s amnesty.
“I can’t say I’m surprised by this, given the apparent lack of will to protect the American people against Obama’s illegal actions,” the aide said.
Yes! Amnesty for all! Or maybe we could work on deporting people who are here illegally, who chose to break our laws, and actually have a GOP leadership with a freaking spine to stand up to a President that is forcing the issue down the throats of Americans. We deserve better. We may be a ‘nation of immigrants’ as our questionable leader states, but the word he forgot there was LEGAL. Boehner, get a spine, and stop being Obama’s sheeple. We didn’t elect you to serve his best interests.
White House Correspondent
President Barack Obama’s Nov. 21 amnesty puts millions of illegals on a fast-track to citizenship, Utah Sen. Mike Lee announced Thursday.
Obama and his administration “have cleared the pathway to citizenship for millions of people who have crossed our borders illegally,” Lee said in a Thursday speech on the Senate floor.
“They know what they have done, and it is illegal,” he added.
Obama’s amnesty allows illegals with U.S.-born children to briefly leave the country, perhaps for a business meeting in Canada, and then be given “advanced parole” by border officials that lets them legally return to the United States.
Once they have legally returned under “advanced parole,” they can be immediately sponsored for a green card and citizenship by their adult child, he said.
That process bypasses U.S. law that requires illegals to leave the country for 10 years before their U.S.-born adult children can sponsor them for citizenship, Lee said.
Lee spoke shortly before Republican House Speaker John Boehner tried to muscle through a 2015 budget that doesn’t bar federal spending to implement Obama’s amnesty.
The budget’s support for Obama’s amnesty is opposed by numerous GOP legislators and a significant slice of the GOP base.
Obama’s amnesty offers work permits, drivers’ licenses, Medicare and Social Security to five million illegals who have children with citizenship or green cards.
The five million could get citizenship via Obama’s new parole technique.
“The president claims that he is not changing this rule, but that’s exactly what he’s doing,” Lee said.
“So long as you have a business meeting in Toronto. you can get permission to leave and be paroled back into the country on your return … [and] once you do that. … You can get a green card and get citizenship,” Lee said.
The method is illegal, said Lee, because Congress has narrowly defined when the administration can offer “advanced parole” to foreigners, he said.
Parole can only be offered to people “only on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.”
These reasons include allowing a person without a visa to attend the imminent funeral of a relative, or to act as a witness in a trial, he said.
Obama’s plans to provide parole to many returning illegals “clearly violate U.S. law,” he said.
By Terence P. Jeffrey
(CNSNews.com) – The U.S. Treasury continued to rake in tax dollars at a record rate in November as the federal government closed out the first two months of fiscal 2015 with $404,155,000,000 in total receipts, according to the Monthly Treasury Statement released today.
In constant 2014 dollars, this is the first time federal revenues have topped $400 billion in the first two months of the fiscal year.
Even with these record revenues, the Treasury ran a deficit of $178.531 billion deficit in October and November as it spent $582.686 billion.
This continued to follow the trend seen in fiscal 2014, when the Treasury brought in a record $3,020,809,000,000 in revenue, but spent $3,504,145,000,000, and ended up running a deficit of $483,336,000,000.
In the first two months of this fiscal year, the Treasury spent $1.44 for each $1.00 in tax receipts.
Given that there are 115,831,000 households in the United States, according to the Census Bureau, the Treasury spent $5,030 per household in the first two months of fiscal 2015.
The $178,531,000,000 deficit the Treasury ran in those two months equaled $1,541 per household.
The biggest source for the record federal revenue during the two-month period was the individual income tax. It brought in $192,619,000,000 in October and November. The second biggest source was “Social Insurance and Retirement Receipts,” the taxes Americans pay for Social Security and Medicare. These brought in $146,263,000,000.
Corporate income taxes brought in $12,810,000,000 over the two months.
By Joel Gehrke
December 2, 2014 4:38 PM
Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) suggested that House Republicans are on the verge of breaking their campaign promise to fight President Obama’s administrative amnesty, judging by the legislative text currently being circulated.
Sessions said that the proposed language “fails to meet [the] test” established by Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, who promised earlier this year that the GOP would do everything possible to thwart Obama’s executive orders.
“The executive amnesty language is substantially weaker than the language the House adopted this summer, and does not reject the central tenets of the President’s plan: work permits, Social Security and Medicare to 5 million illegal immigrants — reducing wages, jobs and benefits for Americans,” Sessions said in the statement expressing his dissatisfaction with the results of a House Republican conference meeting today.
In the meeting, “the lawmakers began coalescing around a two-part plan that would allow a symbolic vote to show their frustration with President Obama’s executive action on immigration, before funding the government ahead of a Dec. 11 deadline,” according to the New York Times.
Sessions wants Congress to attach a rider to the government-funding bill that prohibits Obama from implementing the orders; his office released a list yesterday, compiled with the assistance the Congressional Research Service, of instances of Congress doing just that on a variety of issues last year.
“Congress must respond to the president’s unlawful action by funding the government but not funding illegal amnesty,” Sessions said. “This is a perfectly sound and routine application of Congressional authority. In fact, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service reports that last year’s omnibus spending bill included 16 such funding restrictions on fee-based programs.”
To those inclined to worry that using the spending power would backfire on Republicans, Sessions suggested that economic populism would lead to a GOP victory.
“Polling shows voters believe that Americans should get preference for available jobs by almost a 10–1 margin,” Sessions said. ”Republicans should not be timid or apologetic, but mount a bold defense of struggling Americans.”