Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Solve the Deficit Problem by Making Taxpayers of the Unemployed

The following blog was authored by Susan Rees, Director of  National Policy & Projects
at Wider Opportunities for Women.

The most painless way to get our budget back into balance is to create jobs for America’s 15 million unemployed and the millions more who have given up looking for work. Not only will they be better able to support their families and become self-fulfilled citizens themselves, but they will resume paying taxes, including the payroll taxes that finance Social Security and Medicare.

A full employment strategy should be certain to consider the issues facing older workers who are having particular difficulty finding employment in this recession. Only 12% of workers over age 50 unemployed in April 2009 had found work in March of this year, compared to 29% of workers age 30-49, according to a survey by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers. This looks a lot like forced early retirement to me. Then there are those who willingly retired before their normal retirement age but found their retirement accounts decimated by the recession. Now they also need work, often in a new field or a part-time job, just to stay even.

Job creation is a win-win as far as our budget deficit goes. To revitalize our economy over the long run we need “all hands on deck,” as President Obama says. Buckminster Fuller once said if you put a thousand people to work just thinking, one of them will come up with an idea to pay all the rest.

We have plenty of work that needs to be done while we wait for the promised new green economy to take hold. There is tutoring and mentoring for school children, early childhood education and day care, services for the sick and isolated, staffing for recreation and arts programs, the list goes on and on. One legislative solution is the Local Jobs for America Act (H.R. 4812) that would create or save a million jobs providing needed community services in nonprofits and public agencies. For those who need a job and new skills, it would fund 50,000 on-the-job training slots with private employers.

Let’s give our people productive work. It’s time to turn this lemon of an economy into lemonade.


Brandy Bauer said...

You're right - there are so many unemployed seniors (and soon-to-be seniors) out there who really want to work but aren't being given the opportunity. The National Council on Aging helps some of these persons thanks to our Senior Community Service Employment Program offices, but passing the legislation would help even more.

What we also need to do is emphasize that meaningful work opportunities contribute to healthy individuals and communities - it's a win for all of us, not just our pocketbooks!

Anonymous said...

The small number of people over the age of 50 that can find work is quite alarming. Most of these folks are still healthy, enthusiatic and resouceful and would add a lot of productivity, historical insight, work ethic and of course add to the tax base of our country. We live in an inclusive society and these folks deserve to be included. I personnel have heard of several 50 plus age folks who took forced early retirement, because after losing recent jobs, they could not get back into the "job employment" game. These are somewhat veteran players who could mentor the younger team membbers, thus making the overall team stronger. Hopefully we can turn this over 50 and not able to find employment issue around sooner than later.

Donna Addkison said...

All age groups have been affected by the economic downturn, and as such no one can be left out in the recovery. We cannot build an economy that will only employ those in midcareer - this is not sustainable for young families to achieve self-sufficiency, or older families to maintain assets for their retirement and address emergencies such as unemployment. Job creation must be "all hands on deck" and provide opportunities for both young and old to reach economic security.

Anonymous said...

This is soo true! I am one of those just over 50 who has been laid off from a management position for 2 years now. I have been working odd part-time jobs but companies don't seem to be attractive to putting us back into full time employment roles. I have 2 degrees, still young, viable, ethusiastic and have a lot to offer. But what I did find earlier in my search was the possiblitiy of one full time offer that would have required me to take a 25,000 pay cut for a non-managerial role that I onced supervised. I would have been underutilized and bored to tears in that job. Ofcourse looking back and realizing now how my age has been a real disadvantage, I wish I would have taken that underutilzed 25,000 pay cut job, because my parttime jobs have not yielded that much in salary.

Willa said...

It is sad and depressing when you are tossed aside like an old rotten egg. And, yes, unproductive.

To say that only 12% of us have found new employment means a lot when you are the largest demographic. What are the actual numbers for the older unemployed workforce, on UI or otherwise? Are they too scary to print?

Are we aged 50 + persons not the largest demographic on the planet right now? Have we not changed the course of history, through public discourse, during our lifetimes? Where are our voices now? We have no representation. I would like to change that.

In all of the resources and initiatives I've reviewed, on WOW or Workforce 3 or elsewhere, the focus seems to be on bringing the aged 18 + folks into the workforce by retraining them for the Green Collar jobs of the future. In the meantime, the folks with the most experience and wisdom have been relegated to "relief," while Gen X and Y plan a future that doesn't really include us.

We can still vote, and we need to be valued and counted. Point me in the right direction, Anybody, and I will get this ball to the goal post.

Willa Madden