Monday, January 9, 2012
My favored employment indicator is the employment-population ratio for working-age men (25-54):
The last couple of months have seen an uptick in this and the ratio can be seen to have been very, very, gradually recovering since the end of the last recession (which was officially in June 2009). At this pace, we will return to the pre-recession level some time in the late 2030s. I jest not:
However, looking at the longer term history:
I continue to be amazed that this data - together with its causes and implications - are not at the center of our economic-political discussions. The importance of hard work and self-discipline has been a central value of western culture for many centuries (if not millenia). One in five working age men are no longer working (or not in any way that society is able to measure at least) and as far as I can see there is little or no hope of a fundamental reversion in this trend. We are going to have to either a) change the situation in the economy, or b) undergo a massive values shift to give honor and meaning to men who don't work, or c) experience a major crisis.