Category : Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(WSJ) Opioid Epidemic May Be Keeping Prime-Age Americans Out of the Workforce

New research suggests a significant portion of the post-1990s decline in labor-force participation among Americans in their prime working years could be linked to the opioid epidemic.

Conducted by Princeton University economist Alan Kruegerthe study found that a national increase in opioid painkiller prescriptions between 1999 and 2015 may have accounted for about 20% of the decline in workforce participation among men ages 25 to 54, and roughly 25% of the drop in prime-age female workforce participation.

“The opioid epidemic and labor-force participation are now intertwined,” Mr. Krueger said. “If we are to bring a large number of people back into the labor force who have left the labor force, I think it’s important that we take serious steps to address the opioid crisis.”

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Posted in Anthropology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Young Adults

Another Look Back–Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1941 Labor Day Radio Address

On this day-this American holiday-we are celebrating the rights of free laboring men and women.

The preservation of these rights is vitally important now, not only to us who enjoy them,but to the whole future of Christian civilization.

American labor now bears a tremendous responsibility in the winning of this most brutal, most terrible of all wars.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Military / Armed Forces, Office of the President, Politics in General

A Prayer for Labor Day (IV)–For the Unemployed

O Lord and heavenly Father, we commend to Thy care and protection the men and women of this land who are suffering distress and anxiety through lack of work. Strengthen and support them, we beseech Thee; and so prosper the counsels of those who govern and direct our industries, that Thy people may be set free from want and fear to work in peace and security, for the relief of their necessities and the wellbeing of this realm; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Robert W. Rodenmayer, ed., The Pastor’s Prayerbook: Selected and arranged for various occasions (New York: Oxford University Press, 1960)

Posted in Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for Labor Day (III)

O God, who hast taught us that none should be idle: Grant to all the people of this land both the desire and the opportunity to labour; that, working together with one heart and mind, they may set forward the welfare of mankind, and glorify thy holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Spirituality/Prayer

A Look Back to John F Kennedy’s Labor Day Address in 1963

We honor too the contributions of labor to the strength and safety of our Nation. America’s capacity for leadership in the world depends on the character of our society at home; and, in a turbulent and uncertain world, our leadership would falter unless our domestic society is robust and progressive. The labor movement in the United States has made an indispensable contribution both to the vigor of our democracy and to the advancement of the ideals of freedom around the earth.

We can take satisfaction on this Labor Day in the health and energy of our national society. The events of this year have shown a quickening of democratic spirit and vitality among our people. We can take satisfaction too in the continued steady gain in living standards. The Nation’s income, output, and employment have reached new heights. More than 70 million men and women are working in our factories, on our farms, and in our shops and services. The average factory wage is at an all-time high of more than $100 a week. Prices have remained relatively stable, so the larger paycheck means a real increase in purchasing power for the average American family.

Yet our achievements, notable as they are, must not distract us from the things we have yet to achieve. If satisfaction with the status quo had been the American way, we would still be 13 small colonies straggling along the Atlantic coast. I urge all Americans, on this Labor Day, to consider what we can do as individuals and as a nation to move speedily ahead on four major fronts.

First, we must accelerate our effort against unemployment and for the expansion of jobs and opportunity.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, History, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Politics in General

(First Things) John Waters for Labor Day 2017–Back to Work

In a recent book, Men Without Work, Nicholas Eberstadt shows that, although unemployment in the U.S. has been falling in what he calls this “second Gilded Age,” there is simultaneously a “flight from work” by men in their prime. Even while manufacturers are finding it difficult to fill vacancies, the percentage of working men between the ages of twenty-five and fifty-four is now lower than it was at the end of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Approximately one in eight men in their prime has left the workforce altogether, and about one in six is without paid work, a trend that has been visible since the mid-1960s. The graph of this male exodus from the workplace is an almost straight upward line, regardless of booms or recessions, indicating that weakening market demand is not the critical factor. Nearly seven million American men in their prime have left behind—it seems of their own volition—the idea of trading their skills and talents in the marketplace, and many have turned their backs on all forms of commitment and responsibility. Some are ex-cons, but the greater part is composed of single men without parental responsibilities and with limited formal education, a significant quotient of these being African Americans. Marriage trumps race as an indicator of employment, as does being a recent immigrant. For every man in his prime deemed unemployed, there are three others who are neither working nor looking for work. Almost three in five of these men are receiving at least one disability benefit, a factor that Eberstadt concedes may not be driving the phenomenon but is certainly financing it.

We observe, then, the depths of an existential rather than an economic or purely social crisis, with most of these men wasting away for an average of 2,100 hours a year in front of screens, binging on TV, pornography, sugar, and painkillers, no longer feeling that America has a place for their humanity. They don’t do civic society, religion, or volunteerism. If 1965 work rates pertained in the U.S. today, ­Eberstadt maintains, there would be approximately 10 million more men with paid work than there are now. He ­professes to find this baffling, given that national wealth has doubled since the turn of the millennium. He expresses ­similar incomprehension about the fact that, ­globalization and deindustrialization notwithstanding, this precise syndrome has not afflicted other Western ­societies to anything like the same extent. He calls it the “quiet catastrophe,” ignored by politicians and ­commentators.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

A Prayer for Labor Day (II)

O Lord Jesus Christ, who in thy earthly life didst share man’s toil, and thereby hallow the labour of his hands: Prosper all those who maintain the industries of this land; and give them pride in their work, a just reward for their labour, and joy both in supplying the needs of others and in serving thee their Saviour; who with the Father and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Posted in Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Spirituality/Prayer

Michael Novak For Labor Day 2017

…a calling requires certain preconditions. It requires more than desires; it requires talent. Not everyone can be, simply by desiring it, an opera singer, or professional athlete, or leader of a large enterprise. For a calling to be right, it must fit our abilities. Another precondition is love — not just love of the final product but, as the essayist Logan Pearsall Smith once put it, “The test of a vocation is love of drudgery it involves.” Long hours, frustrations, small steps forward, struggles: unless these too are welcomed with a certain joy, the claim to being called has a hollow ring.

Working: Its Meaning and Its Limits, ed. Gilbert C. Meilaender (Notre Dame: Notre Dame University Press, 2000), pp.124-125, emphasis mine

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for Labor Day (I)

On this three day weekend, when we rest from our usual labors, loving Father, we pray for all who shoulder the tasks of human labor””in the marketplace, in factories and offices, in the professions, and in family living.

We thank you, Lord, for the gift and opportunity of work; may our efforts always be pure of heart, for the good of others and the glory of your name.

We lift up to you all who long for just employment and those who work to defend the rights and needs of workers everywhere.

May those of us who are now retired always remember that we still make a valuable contribution to our Church and our world by our prayers and deeds of charity.

May our working and our resting all give praise to you until the day we share together in eternal rest with all our departed in your Kingdom as you live and reign Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

–The Archdiocese of Detroit

Posted in Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Pastor’s Prayerbook

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who declarest thy glory and showest forth thy handiwork in the heavens and in the earth; Deliver us, we beseech thee, in our several callings, from the service of mammon, that we may do the work which thou givest us to do, in truth, in beauty, and in righteousness, with singleness of heart as thy servants, and to the benefit of our fellow men; for the sake of him who came among us as one that serveth, thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Robert W. Rodenmayer, ed., The Pastor’s Prayerbook: Selected and arranged for various occasions (New York: Oxford University Press, 1960)

Posted in Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Spirituality/Prayer

(Economist) Women alone are driving a recovery in workforce participation in the USA Economy

If there were a list of common complaints about America’s economy, the fact that too few people work would be near the top. Though unemployment is low—only 4.3% in July—the figure does not include those who are jobless either by choice, or because they have given up looking for work. The proportion of those aged between 25 and 54 in work is 79%—lower than in France, where the unemployment rate is more than twice as high. So it is a relief that over the past two years, as the labour market has improved, Americans aged 25 to 54 (prime-age, in the jargon) have been joining the labour force in greater numbers. What is remarkable, however, is that this turnaround has been driven almost entirely by women.

When people think about America’s hidden reserves of labour, they usually point to prime-age men, who have participated in the labour market at ever-lower rates since the 1960s. Things have been particularly bad for less educated men, who have suffered as technological progress and trade have killed off manufacturing jobs. More than one in five prime-age men with a high-school diploma does not work, compared with fewer than one in 11 men with a bachelor’s degree….the top end of the labour market is increasingly promising for women. Even in 2010, America’s working women were about as likely to be managers as men; elsewhere, they were only half as likely. They were also more likely than men to be professionals. Women are now a majority among new college graduates, make up more than half of law students, and are equally represented among freshmen at medical schools. Women in their late 20s and early 30s are responsible for nearly 40% of labour-force growth since prime-age participation bottomed out in August 2015.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Theology, Women

Irwin Stelzer–The Opioid Crisis Is Creating a Labor Crisis

If you wonder what is supposed to happen when the demand for labor outruns the available supply, take a look at the picture below. It’s a Starbucks plea for baristas-the usually young people who make your latte, americano, or coconut milk mocha macchiato every morning. True, this particular branch is located in small-town Colorado, a state in which the unemployment rate is around 2 percent, far below the approximately 6 percent considered “full employment” when I was teaching this stuff. Still, even after recent increases in hourly wage rates, and introduction of an attractive benefits package that includes free college tuition and health care, and free access to Spotify, which I am told is some sort of music app, Starbucks is having trouble filling its ranks.

The Seattle-based chain is not the only employer struggling to find staff. The problem is widespread. One construction executive told me he cannot find roofers, those who left the trade during the Great Recession having found easier and steadier work driving UPS and FedEx vans. A property developer with a $1 billion annual budget has the land on which to build to houses, but can’t find workers, skilled and unskilled, to build them. Amazon, which needs 50,000 workers to fill new positions, 40,000 of them full-time, many with starting salaries of about $13 an hour, will be holding a job fair next week and expects to face difficulties finding suitable candidates. Employers uniformly tell me that higher wages would not attract the workers they need. Before responding, “They would say that, wouldn’t they?” consider opioids.

As Fed chair Janet Yellen told a Senate committee recently, the opioid epidemic is contributing to the labor shortage. Opioids are just the thing to kill the pain of a tooth extraction. For two or three days. And a blessing for the terminally ill. But they are a bane for those who abuse them, and a factor to be considered when analyzing the labor market. Yellen testified, “We’ve had many decades of declining labor force participation by prime-age men. … We’ve seen now unfortunately that it is likely tied to the opioid crisis. … I don’t know if it’s causal, or it’s a symptom of long-running economic maladies that have affected these communities.” One iteration of the now-failed Senate health care bill included $45 billion to combat opioid abuse.

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(Bloomberg) Working Past 70: Americans Can’t Seem to Retire; us seniors highest employ % in the last 55 yrs

More and more Americans are spending their golden years on the job.

Almost 19 percent of people 65 or older were working at least part-time in the second quarter of 2017, according to the U.S. jobs report released on Friday. The age group’s employment/population ratio hasn’t been higher in 55 years, before American retirees won better health care and Social Security benefits starting in the late 1960s.

And the trend looks likely to continue. Millennials, prepare yourselves. Better yet, consider this and this, so you have a choice in the matter when your time comes.

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Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(Reason) Young Men Are Playing Video Games Instead of Getting Jobs

Video games, like work, are basically a series of quests comprised of mundane and repetitive tasks: Receive an assignment, travel to a location, overcome some obstacles, perform some sort of search, pick up an item, and then deliver it in exchange for a reward—and, usually, another quest, which starts the cycle all over again. You are not playing the game so much as following its orders. The game is your boss; to succeed, you have to do what it says.

This is especially true in the genre that has come to dominate much of big-budget game development, the open-world action role-playing game, which blends the hair-trigger violence of traditional shooters with the massive explorable landscapes of games like Grand Theft Auto and the intricate craft and character leveling systems of pen-and-paper tabletop fantasy games like Dungeons & Dragons.

The games consist of a series of assignments combined with a progression of skills, awards, and accomplishments, in which you, the player, become more powerful and proficient as a result of your dedication. And dedication is what these games require. It is not uncommon for single-player games to take upward of 60 hours to complete. Online, multiplayer variants can easily chew up hundreds or even thousands of hours of time, with the most accomplished players putting in dozens of hours a week for months on end. Although these games are usually packaged in a veneer of fantasy, they work less like traditional entertainment and more like employment simulators.

So it is perhaps not surprising that for many young men, especially those with lower levels of educational attainment, video games are increasingly replacing work.

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Posted in Anthropology, Economy, Entertainment, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Men, Young Adults

(Wa Po) Companies need workers — but people keep getting high

Workers at McLane drive forklifts and load hefty boxes into trucks. The grocery supplier, which runs a warehouse in Colorado, needs people who will stay alert — but prospective hires keep failing drug screens.

“Some weeks this year, 90 percent of applicants would test positive for something,” ruling them out for the job, said Laura Stephens, a human resources manager for the company in Denver.

The state’s unemployment rate is already low — 3 percent, compared to 4.7 percent for the entire nation. Failed drug tests, which are rising locally and nationally, further drain the pool of eligible job candidates.

“Finding people to fill jobs,” Stephens said, “is really challenging.”

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Posted in Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market