According to the U.S. Department of Labor, unemployment across the country is at about 6.1 percent (here in Michigan, it’s at 7.4 percent, which puts us in the bottom 10 states.) That means a lot of folks are still struggling to find a job, or a job where they are not underemployed.
Peter Morici, an economist at the University of Maryland give 5 reasons for this. Have all the “good” jobs moved overseas? Do we need to raise the minimum wage? Are we Americans lagging behind in math and science? Here are Morici’s thoughts:
- The U.S. has poorly-enforced trade agreements. Morici says we Americans are spending money and making stuff, but too much money is going overseas. “Presidents Bush and Obama have refused to enforce WTO rules that prohibit currency manipulation to gain competitive advantage.”
- We are suffering from misguided energy policies. We are still too dependent on oil and not developing other energy resources. This is costing jobs and money.
- Our government burdens us with both regulations and taxes. Morici points to environmental issues. Government regulations in this area are far more stringent and costly than necessary, he believes. Also, the U.S. corporate tax rate is one of the highest in the world. Companies are not in business to pay taxes.
- Corruption and monopolies are costly, not just abroad, but right here in the U.S. Morici: “…today’s leaders appear not to value a vibrant private sector and spirited competition.” Too many industries get special treatment (think Wall Street and pharmaceuticals.) Corruption raises consumer costs in terms of limiting efficiency and innovation, and deadens hiring.
- We struggle with disincentives to work, poorly-administered higher education and immigration issues. Our government gives many people every reason in the world NOT to work, by too easily granting and extending benefits such as food stamps (which those who are working pay for.) Morici also says that higher-education is often far more concerned with “athletic arenas, flashy student centers and other resort amenities” causing needless financial waste and driving up student costs. We are not training students well for today’s workforce and too many of U.S. jobs have gone to immigrants in the past 15 years or so.
None of these are easy to fix, but what’s the alternative?