Addressing Poverty in a Free and Dynamic Society

 

With an unemployment rate now down to 4.2% and the average wage rising 3.1% in the past year, the U.S. is finally recovering from the Great Recession which ended in June 2009. My last several posts have described an optimistic scenario for the U.S. economy going forward.

  • The American idea is thriving.  The U.S. is the world’s most competitive large economy. Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are in the process of revolutionizing all aspects of life, all over the world. Productivity growth in the digital industries has grown at the annual rate of 2.7%, much faster than for physical industries. Democracy is mostly flourishing around the world.
  • Ecommerce is one example of a thriving industry.   Fulfillment center weekly wages are 31% higher on average than for brick and mortar retail in the same area. Total ecommerce related jobs have increased much faster in the last two years than have traditional retail jobs been lost.
  • Income inequality can be addressed effectively by speeding up economic growth (with tax and regulatory reform), improving educational (especially with early childhood) opportunities and with better training programs for the unemployed and underemployed to qualify them for the millions of skilled jobs going begging for lack of qualified applicants.

One additional feature needed is “A balanced and sensible anti-poverty program,”  to help many of the down and out get back on their feet.


The way to accomplish this is with:

  • Work requirements as a condition of public assistance. The work first approach has been shown to have better outcomes with regard to attachment to the labor force (see above chart) than even approaches which focus on training and education.

Conclusion. The U.S. economy is basically sound. We lead the world in many industries and especially in digital technology.  There are lots of good jobs going begging for lack of qualified applicants.  The best anti-poverty program is job training.

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