The Economy Is Improving But Not Fast Enough II. What to Do?

 

Our economy is doing a little better recently but not nearly as good as it could be.  In my last post, “Men without Work,” I present Nicholas Eberstadt’s data that a significant part of the problem is the very large number (9.5 million) of prime working age (25 – 54) men who are unemployed and not looking for work.
Statistically, such men are likely to be un-workers if 1) they have no more than a high school diploma, 2) are unmarried and without dependent children, 3) are not immigrants and 4) are African American.
Two other relevant factors are 1) the huge increase in employment for prime working age women, from 34% in 1948 to 70% in 2015 and 2) the very high male arrest and incarceration rates for blacks and those without a high school diploma.
Obviously, it is highly detrimental to society to have such a large number of men who are idle during their prime working years.
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Here are several ways to address this problem:

  • Revitalize America’s job-generating capacities. More businesses have closed than opened in each year since the 2008 financial crisis.  Furthermore, the growing regulatory burden is not a recipe for encouraging entrepreneurship.
  • Reverse the perverse disincentives against male work embedded in our social welfare systems. The Earned Income Tax Credits should be extended to single adults without dependents. Eligibility for disability income should be tightened considerably.

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  • Come to terms with the enormous challenge of bringing convicts and felons back into our economy and society. The huge increase in incarceration rates in recent years has coincided with a dramatic drop in rates for both violent crime and property crime.

Conclusion. One good way to speed up economic growth is to put more unemployed prime working age men back to work. There are several very concrete steps which can be taken to do this.

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