Poverty, Shrinking Workforce, and Low-Skill Workers: A National Crisis

Many Americans, especially Republicans, think the 2012 election is our last chance to turn our ship of state around, but it may already be too late. For exactly how to turn the ship around and who will be captain will cause more polarization, more dysfunction, and potential for upheaval. Per Bob Dylan: “When you ain’t got nothin’, you got nothin’ to lose.” Some facts supporting that statement:

Unless there is some radical change, the national trend towards a have vs. have-not society is already set in stone. Expect class warfare to grow and government entitlement battles to become even more vicious.

According to USA Today, in 2010 the share of the population that had a job fell to 45.4%, down from a peak of 49.3% in 2000 — the lowest percentage of workers since 1983. This downward percentage translates into 27 million more non-working adults. Looking at male workers only, 66.8% had jobs, the lowest on record. Obviously this downward trend must be reversed, or national decline is inevitable.

This is a problem — closer to a crisis — that few of our national leaders bother to discuss. Too many high-skilled high-paying jobs are going unfilled.  Met any unemployed computer engineers lately? Not likely you will.

Jobs, jobs, jobs may be the battle cry of the 2012 election but it is skills, skills, skills that are the real problem. Moreover, the lack of high-tech skills in our working population is impeding our future economic growth.

How does our economy create low-skilled but adequate wage jobs for the growing number of low-skilled or no-skilled American workers? Solving that dilemma is the key to lifting half of our population out of poverty.