Muddling along

Labor Day does not take place in early September because that is when the school year begins, but the connection is appropriate. Labor Day celebrates those who work, and the holiday reinforces the need for a safe work environment at a decent wage. Today, the better educated you are, the more likely you are to be employed and employed at something you like to do. With a college degree, you are certain to earn more.

Since the recession that began in 2007 and unemployment climbed, the unemployment rate for those with a college degree has been half that for those who do not have a degree.

Education includes the ability to communicate and to learn the importance of working together, to recognize from history that change is inevitable and more and more to have mastered the rudiments of computer usage that has touched almost every workplace. One education will not be sufficient, either. Needed skills are changing, requiring workplace and community college training programs.

And some workers lack mobility; jobs are going begging in some locations. Home ownership, loved by almost all, can have a negative effect on employment.

Employment has increased since the worst of the recession, but it is not what it was before.

There are bright spots, however.

Manufacturing is returning to the United States to a limited degree. The opposite side of the Pacific Ocean has proved to be too great a distance for some manufacturers with products that require ongoing change and development. A trip across town, or even next door to communicate with an engineer or an assembly line leader can be more valuable than lower wages.

Asking a retailer, “Was this made in the U.S.?” might garner a positive response.

In China, where so much is made, the low, low wages are disappearing. Workers’ expectations and demands are higher than they were and growing. Government workplace protections, although limited, are increasing. That adds to costs.

Benefitting the United States is the natural gas that has become almost plentiful. Fuel costs are making American businesses more competitive against those in Europe, for example.

But, for those with limited education, far too many new jobs today are part-time and low wage and in the service industries as the economy struggles to gain traction. Large corporations have been banking their profits rather than expanding and hiring; consumers, except for purchasing automobiles, continue to be cautious shoppers.

The employment trajectory is up, if only slightly. For those with an education, it is more favorable.

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