Monday, April 14, 2008

Many More Are Jobless Than Are Unemployed - New York Times

A Floyd Norris article in the Times confirms what I have long suspected for years:  Despite the rosy unemployment figures of the past 10 years (around 4.1-5%), there are many who have either chosen not to work (stay-at-home spouses, say) or have given up trying to find work.

In the latest report, for March, the Labor Department reported the jobless rate — also called the “not employed rate” by some — at 13.1 percent for men in the prime age group [27-54]. Only once during a post-World War II recession did the rate ever get that high. It hit 13.3 percent in June 1982, the 12th month of the brutal 1981-82 recession, and continued to rise from there.

That is more than 1 out of 10.

I suspect it includes many people with disabilities.  Working with a disability is a complicated dance that's influenced by many factors:  The nature of the work, the nature of the disability, and the level of health care--and even the availability of care--that the person with a disability requires for a stable life that allows him or her to keep working.

People with low-level jobs (Wal-Mart, Dunkin Donuts') who get disabled just don't come back to work.  Some can eventually come back, and some do only to find their condition aggravated, so they can't work anyway.

Even with "higher-level jobs", a term that needs to be put in quotes following the collapse of middle management and the era of downsizing over the past 20 years, it is precarious for one who becomes disabled.

One may be told that their health-care costs are too high for the productivity they bring.  Or that adaptations would be too expensive.  Or, most likely, they are not "dynamic" young enough.

Near age 54 with a disability, unless one is in a very secure job, he or she may leave.  A friend of mine in her fifties fell down a flight of stairs during a power failure at her workplace.  She settled with them, but never went back to work anywhere and eventually became semi-housebound due to the fibromyaglia she contracted as a consequence.

Add in overseas outsourcing, where all the workers are able-bodied and there is no ADA to worry about, and it's a precarious position.    It always has been.

Many More Are Jobless Than Are Unemployed - New York Times

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