It’s unsettling to know that we live in an age where more and more working-age people are choosing not to work in our American economy. In the current economic climate, some companies are indeed reducing their business development expectations and capabilities, and are focusing on simply maintaining their market share. The result is that there are fewer interesting and traditionally upwardly mobile jobs being created by our engines of corporate innovation and expansion. However, jobs are still plentiful for those who want to work.
Educated Americans today are not quick to accept the plentiful lower-paying-entry-level positions and then working their way into better-paid jobs. Instead, when faced with accepting a job that doesn’t meet our expectations, we’re increasingly choosing to be counted among the “non-participating workers”. The federal unemployment calculation does not count the college student who never accepts a job, the self-employed worker who closes down her business, or those who are no longer eligible for unemployment compensation and simply stop looking for work they consider appropriate for their skill and level of education. The actual number of working-age adults who are no-longer-working, “the non-participating workers”, include all the groups I mention above, and is now at a record 93 million people, which calculates to a 62.7% labor participation rate, which is at a 37 year low, and the trajectory keeps pointing lower. The inverse of the current labor participation rate is a better indicator of our unemployed workforce, and this number is now 37.3% and rising.
Yet, entry-level jobs are available, but fewer working-age American people are willing to perform those jobs. There is a growing acceptance of social and economic pessimism that’s driving us to choose and stay on the economic sidelines, instead of remaining productive in a less-desirable-but-available-entry-level position within our career area of interest. This sit-on-the-sidelines mindset is a significant contributor to the growing number of us who choose to remain an unemployed or a non-participating worker. Anyone paying attention to the news, and who sees the stubbornly flat U.S. Gross Domestic Product growth (less than 1% growth in Q4 2015), can only conclude that our economy is in trouble, but sitting on the sidelines is adding to our economic stagnation. The potential workers who choose not to accept available jobs are leaving companies chronically understaffed, while also causing themselves to suffer personal-skills-stagnation and even long-term-unemployability, as employment gaps are easy to spot and hard to explain.
Our every-four-years-peaceful-political-power-transition is desperately needed to change economic policies and also to change the mood of our company leaders, our American workers, and our students. We need a restoration of economic optimism in America. The leading presidential contenders on both sides illustrate the stark division of thinking among Americans on how to respond to our economic malaise. Regardless of the outcome of our coming presidential election and the resulting economic policies, the actions of each individual American who chooses to remain optimistic, competitive and productive in our economy, is a force that’s even more important than the temporary appointment of our governmental leaders. Not all companies have abandoned optimism and signed on to a “market-share maintenance mindset”, and a majority of the available American workers still choose to accept available jobs, work hard, sharpen their skills, and position themselves for career advancement and a better life.
It’s important to recognize the two main sources of our current pessimistic socio-economic trends, and work vigorously to change both the punitive economic policies of our government, but also work with our universities, junior colleges, trade schools and high schools to assure that our students are taught to appreciate the critical and honorable role that “working” fills in our economy and in our individual lives and that of our families. As a country, we need to actively work to restore optimism among, and increase the labor force participation rate of, our current and future American workers. Our students need to understand how lucky they are to live in this great country, and to learn to be grateful for the opportunities that they are so fortunate to have right in front of them, and to fight to keep this privilege by eagerly participating in our economy. Imagine if the achievements, values, and lessons of the lives of America’s “Greatest Generation” were enthusiastically taught throughout our education system–values that saved the world from despotism and propelled our country into the greatest period of economic productivity the world has ever seen. Each of us can choose to grow our economy again, if we simply choose to remain optimistic, recognize and be grateful for the opportunities right in front of us, teach our students the values that made The United States of America the undisputed greatest country and force for good in the history of the world–and get back to work.
BOLDbreak has one purpose, and that is to provide team leaders and company owners the tools and training they need, to develop an unstoppable Surging Team, a team that repeatedly succeeds in achieving difficult and important company objectives. When teams win, increased company profitability follows! Contact me today and let’s discuss some strategies that your company can adopt that will increase innovation and optimism among your work team. As a company leader, you can choose optimism!
Until then, Keep Winning!