NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

American Millenials Are Not Working

April 6, 2015

Three years ago, the economy saw a drastic shortage of jobs. This shortage persists in many sectors. However, two other shortages are now being felt—the shortage of trained employees and of low-skilled employees willing to work.

This shortage has an upside for workers because it allows them to bid up wages. When Wal-Mart announced last month that wages for many starter workers would rise to $9 an hour, well above the federal legal minimum, they were not being humanitarians. They were responding to a tightening labor market.

The idea that blue-collar jobs are not a pathway to the middle class and higher is antiquated and wrong. Factory work today is often highly sophisticated and knowledge-based with workers using intricate scientific equipment. After several years honing their skills, welders, mechanics, carpenters, and technicians can, earn upwards of $50,000 a year-which in most years still places a household with two such income earners in the top 25 percent for income. It is true these are not glitzy or cushy jobs, but they do pay well.

So why is there a worker shortage? Consider what Heritage Foundation's Stephen Moore says:

  • Government discourages work. Welfare consists of dozens of different and overlapping federal and state income support programs. A recent Census Bureau study found more than 100 million Americans collecting a government check or benefit each month.
  • Public school systems often fail to teach kids basic skills. We ‎have schools that now concentrate more on ethnic studies and tolerance training than teaching kids how to use a lathe or a graphic design tool.
  • A Negative attitude toward "blue collar" work discourages kids from learning how to make things, which contributes to sector-specific worker shortages.

A renewed focus on working would also help erode the entitlement mentality ingrained in so many millennials. Instead of more benefits and handouts, this generation needs to get a job.

Source: Stephen Moore, "The Great Worker Shortage," Heritage Foundation, April 3, 2015. 


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