[Marxism] [pen-l] The Harsh Reality of Job Growth in America | Reports from the Economic Front

Ralph Johansen mdriscollrj at charter.net
Wed Dec 18 17:04:29 MST 2019

Louis Proyect wrote

The current US economic expansion, which began a little over a decade 
ago, is now the longest in US history.  But while commentators celebrate 
the slow but steady growth in economic activity, and the wealthy toast 
continuing strong corporate profits, lowered taxes, and record highs in 
the stock market, things are not so bright for the majority of workers, 
despite record low levels of unemployment.

The fact is, despite the long expansion, the share of workers in 
low-wage jobs remains substantial. To make matters worse, the share of 
low-quality jobs in total employment seems likely to keep growing. And, 
although US workers are not unique in facing hard times, the downward 
press on worker well-being in the US has been more punishing than in 
many other advanced capitalist countries, leaving the average US worker 
absolutely poorer than the average worker in several of them.

The demographic threat to America's jobs boom
Greg Ip - The Wall Street Journal. - Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The U.S. job market continues to blow through expectations, generating 
200,000 new jobs month after month and driving unemployment far below 
what economists thought a decade ago was the lowest possible level.

The main reason is that the economy tends to keep creating jobs until 
interrupted by a recession. The current expansion has now lasted a 
record 10-plus years. So long as the usual recession triggers—rising 
inflation and interest rates, or financial excess—remain absent, job 
creation should continue.

Yet eventually it will hit a constraint: The U.S. will run out of people 
to join the workforce. Indeed, this bright cyclical picture for the 
labor market is on a collision course with a dimming demographic 
outlook. While jobs are growing faster than expected, population is 
growing more slowly. In July of last year, the number of Americans stood 
at 327 million, 2.1 million fewer than the Census Bureau predicted in 
2014 and 7.8 million fewer than it predicted in 2008. (Figures for 2019 
will be released at the end of the month.)

The U.S. fertility rate—the number of children each woman can be 
expected to have over her lifetime—has dropped from 2.1 in 2007 to 1.7 
in 2018, the lowest on record. From 2010 through 2018, there were 3 
million fewer births and 171,000 more deaths than the Census Bureau had 
projected in 2008. Death rates, already rising because the population is 
older, have been pressured further by “deaths of despair”—suicide, drug 
overdoses and alcohol-related illness.

Aging doesn’t spell economic doom: Germany’s population is flat and 
Japan’s is falling, yet both boast lower unemployment than the U.S. But 
in the long run, job creation is constrained by the number of people of 
working age, which is why the International Monetary Fund puts Germany’s 
long-run growth rate at 1.3% and Japan’s at 0.6%, both lower than the 
U.S. at 1.9%.

The latest employment data underscore these dynamics. In the 12 months 
through November, the number of people working rose 1.2% from the prior 
12 months, according to the Labor Department. That was slightly faster 
than 1% growth of the labor force—the number of people working or 
looking for work—and thus the unemployment rate fell. Labor-force growth 
was in turn faster than the 0.6% growth in the working-age population. 
As a result, the share of working-age people who are in the labor force, 
known as the labor-force participation rate, rose.

Unemployment is already as low, and possibly lower, as many economists 
think can be sustained in the long run.

Related video: America's changing workforce: Independent and gig workers

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