David La Piana // January 17, 2014 10:48
I just read an economic status report saying that in the past six months, 347,000 Americans quit looking for work. This means that the unemployment rate dropped, but real unemployment did not. Labor participation in the U.S. (the percentage of people working) is now at a 35-year low.
Fewer and fewer people are able to find work and, outside of a few booming areas like software engineering and financial services, the employment picture is dismal. The government at all levels keeps cutting back public sector jobs and the sequester- and deficit-mania are reducing investment in everything — from R&D to education, defense to food stamps.
In my opinion, it all comes down to jobs. People need decent jobs to support themselves and their families as well as to keep their self-respect and to pass a vision of what being an American is supposed to mean on to their kids. When hundreds of thousands, if not millions, are too discouraged after months or years of looking to even try to find a job, their outlook is bleak, and so is our nation’s.
It is all too easy to get consumed with our own lives and our own work, but as we commemorate social justice and civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. let us take time to stop and think about the kind of country we are becoming – and how we can help make it right.