How Much Better is One in Six?

The other day, on my way to the airport, I was listening to an NPR piece about the job increases for April, believed to be announced in an upcoming government report. Renee Montagne was interviewing Wall Street Journal economics editor, David Wessel.

As it turned out, the number of new jobs rose higher than anticipated. Here’s a clip from a May 7 NPR article…

The number of jobs in America rose by 290,000: Sounds good!
The nation’s unemployment rate rose to 9.9 percent: Sounds bad! ((Goldstein, Jacob. “Why More Jobs = Rising Unemployment.” NPR – Planet Money 7 May 2010: n. pag. Web. 10 May 2010.))

Asked about who is being hit hardest, Wessel replied that the usual victims of recessions are young people and minoirities, But he went on to say,

…what I find the most arresting fact is this: one out of every five men 25 to 54 years old isn’t working – one out of five. They’re either looking for work or given up looking for work, or collecting disability or collecting pensions, or just getting by on the kindness of their families. I mean that’s a remarkably high fraction.

It is a shocking piece of data and a disturbing consequence of a devastating (and avoidable in my opinion) recession. But Wessel uncovers even more disturbing news.

It’s not all because of the recession. There’s been a steady decline in the share of these prime-age men who’ve been working for decades, but it plunged during the recession as industries that tended to employ men, construction, in particular, manufacturing – were hit particularly hard.

I’ve written about this before (This Would be Really Weird), how the jobs typically held by women have not be as heavily impacted by this recession. Health care, for instance, has not been nearly as hard hit by the recession as construction and manufacturing. In addition, according to Wessel, more and more women have been earning college degrees, “..turns out to be one of the things that makes workers desirable to employers – even in a downturn like the one we’ve had.”

But the hammer fell when Wessel concluded that this is not just a recession problem. He reported that,

Larry Summers, the president economic adviser, said at a conference the other day, that he anticipates when we get back to something like a normal economy, instead of having one in five prime-age men being on the sidelines, he expects it’ll be one in six.

My initial response is to ask, “Does this really surprise us?”

Haven’t people been saying for years that our boys are not being served by today’s (yesterday’s) education. Haven’t people been talking about this for years?

I suspect that I’m not the only one who has noticed this in their personal lives, that of all neighborhood kids and cousins my children grew up with, few have finished college, and they are all young women.

Frankly I can not think of any other situation that so clearly describes an education system that is obviously broken. I am also coming to believe that we are so rapidly running out of time that I’m not sure that we can wait for a federal department of education to fix it.

Perhaps, just maybe, it’s time for every single school to decide how they are going to prepare every learner for their future, act on it,

…and simply ignore what’s holding us back, the government’s ill advised accountability.. High stakes testing is an industrial age solution to an information age problem.

Location:SE Railroad St,Pocahontas,United States

11 thoughts on “How Much Better is One in Six?”

  1. And WOWOW —
    this is what I live for (well on the internet)

    The RIPPLE grows!!!

    Thanks for your thanks — and thanks for pointing out WILL who pointed out Dave W.

    Too cool.

    Hugs and thanks

  2. And thank you Dave, your boots on the ground approach has helped to break down the geek barrier to technology in education. Here’s to a never-ending charge in those Energizer batteries you must run on!

    Celebrating Cyber-compliment day,

  3. David: Thank you for writing about my “A Blogger as a Writer” post last week. The connections that developed to other bloggers have demonstrated to our local readership the true power of the blog! Thanks too for your inspiration and your leadership. Hearing you speak, reading Raw Materials for the Mind, visiting this blog – all have helped shape what I believe about technology and the future of education. -Chris

  4. Dave,

    Thank you for being kind to me at GAETC in November 2005. I was “just a teacher” (still am) and you were surrounded by so many “big wigs” but when I asked you what I now consider pretty elementary questions, you responded with respect and grace.

    I’ll never forget — I asked you should I start with blogs or wikis or podcasts and you answered “Well, what do you want to do?” I always start with that question with planning things “what do I want to do.”

    I will never forget your kindness to me when I didn’t even know what a blog was. You got me started and will appreciate it for the rest of my life. Thank you!

  5. One hypothesis for why women have not lost jobs during this recession at the same rate as men is that women are paid less and work in fields that pay less than those typically employing men.

    This is a mixed blessing at best reflecting the continuing lack of opportunities and pay equity for women.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *