Why So Many Americans are Jobless

Tait Trussell is a national award-winning writer, former vice-president of the American Enterprise Institute and former Washington correspondent for The Wall Street Journal.


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Moreover, a majority of Americans (57 percent) say higher education in the U.S. “fails to provide students with good value for the money…” And 75 percent said college is too expensive.

A record number of students are leaving college with a heavy debt burden. According to the Pew study, nearly half said that paying off that debt made it harder to pay other bills.

Ohio University Economics Professor Richard Vedder wrote in the Wall Street Journal in June that expensive college tuition didn’t have to cost so much. He said fees could be cut in half by getting the 80 percent of the faculty  with the lowest teaching loads to teach about half as much as the 20 percent of faculty with the highest loads. The top 20 percent, he said, presently do nearly 60 percent of the teaching.

“There is a tremendous need for tool makers, machinists and technicians within the next few years,” Raymond Hopp, president of HK Metalcraft in New Jersey, said. “That translates into excellent and well paying career opportunities for our young people; and college education is not a requirement.”

The success of students of color is integral to Obama’s stated goal for the U.S. to regain its spot as the global leader in college graduates. The country is currently in twelfth place. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has called this goal the “North Star” of his department’s education efforts.

Carl Camden, head of the temporary-employment company Kelly Services, says skill shortages span an array of jobs, from electricians to CAD/CAM operators (computer-aided design and manufacturing) to PhD scientists for clinical drug tests.

“You can’t find engineers to take jobs in many cities,” says Camden. “We have three jobs for every candidate.”

In an article earlier this year John Ratzenberger warned that we have a “failing economy, crumbling infrastructure, and a workforce made up of college graduates and unskilled labor.” He is producing an education documentary for national release in early 2012 called “Industrial Tsunami.” He said it will showcase programs across the nation that are providing “hands-on, meaningful training to a new generation of Americans. There are some terrific efforts underway, primarily in the private sector[.]”

But that would be contrary to everything Obama believes.

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  • mrbean

    What do you expect with the dumbing down of education to bullsh^&t indoctrination courses along with virtually no classroom discipline in many high schools – and we are into the second generation of a dominate progressive education curriculum throughout education. So what we get are alot of high school graduates that cannot do even basic math, read at any level, write a coheremt sentence, know very little or no history, and almost no science at all. But let's not even test them anymore, it might burst their inflated opinion of themselves and damage their unearned self esteem.

    • Albert Brenner

      We cant find software engineers who are competent. They are either right out of school and dont know practical real skills, they only know the “theory”, or transplants from India, China, Europe who cant invent their way out of a paper bag.

      Many recent grads have philosophy or sociology or astronomy or some other useless degree. IMO college loans should only be approved for skill that are in demand. Sure there are a very few new Eng. Lit majors needed to replace retiring Eng Lit. professors. I have no problem allowing a few Eng Lit majors to get loans up to the expected number of retiring Eng Lit teachers. If you want to get a degree for a skill where there is no demand, you can fund it yourself…. no loan…. work to earn the $$$$ /then/ got to school. I have no problem allowing loans for skill that in demand.

  • kristywood14

    Expand your mind and expand your knowledge. There are still jobs out there. Go after a degree in the field of your choice and on demand. Find your field at "High Speed University" websites to know which are on demand and suitable for you.

    • PhillipGaley

      Of course, there's work out there. Here in OKC, we had two tire companies, who left because, just too many guys wanted to work just too many 3 and 4 day work weeks.

      But, the only real get up early, build a house type motivation to human activity is, . . . family, . . . and, . . . well, too many Americans, . . . are just, . . . not into all the work and pleasure of it all; which, of course, as in say, Italy, the bigger and stronger the administrative part of government, why, the greater the administrative evil, and in natural consequence when animals—no matter whether the lower animal kingdom, or, we in the higher—feel unsafe, the fewer the young, . . . so, . . .

  • maturin20

    It's outrageous how much college costs, how long it takes to complete, and how little a degree means in the marketplace. The market has done great damage to education in the US.

    • Larry

      Wrong, degrees mean little in the job market because far too many people have them, and far too many of them are useless.

      Education has done it to itself.

      • maturin20

        By using a marketplace model, yes.

    • kafirman

      "The market has done great damage to education in the US." No. Government has done great damage to education. Government, as Horowitz says, has replaced an education program for children to a jobs and retirement program for adults. Actually Government has been undermining the "self evident" responsibilities to "Nature and Nature's God." Government sponsored methological naturalism is an act of suicide. It is self-treason. This political death happened to the USSR and it is happening in Europe, Russia (again), China and the USA.

      • maturin20

        Why stop there? Surely it's happening throughout the Americas, South Asia, Africa and the Middle East? Australia can't be immune, nor Japan. Who could possibly be exempt from this horror? Who, I cry, who?

        • kafirman

          You're right: very few nations honor Natural Law. Perhaps in all of history the US has been a shining example of such. But the US is thus no longer. This is why Jesus said "Narrow is the road that leads to life…." Humanism has darkly colored human history.

          • maturin20

            Such a shame. And I just bought a new bird feeder and all.

  • http://www.theventingpost.com/conservativerick.html Richard Sava

    Great piece.
    I just saw John Ratzenberger talk about this on one of the talking head shows. I have been saying this for years – WHY does everyone need to go to college? Some people don't want to go to college and they used to have an option – VoTech schools or high school classes where they learn a trade.
    I learned how to lay a welding bead in the 7th grade. I may not be able to do it very well now but I at least know the basics of it. Try and find that in the school system now. Some of my friends learned advanced carpentry skills in high school. I know of several guys that learned auto mechanic skills in high school that are now very successful auto mechanics doing very well. Not a single day in a college and started their professional careers without a single dime of debt from student loans.

  • Jimbo

    Our company is searching for machinists and cannot find enough at the right skill level in our area. The nearest education program that trains for our needs is 60 miles away and they have difficulty finding students. Machinists need a 9th grade reading level and a 10th to 11th grade math level. Few high school grads in the area meet these requirements. Public educators shy away from teaching the manufacturing trades because they tend to be almost entirely male and they prefer to encourage minorities to apply to college rather than "working class" training for jobs that will actually pay well. Even when we finally find someone who barely meets our skill requirements, we find that they may prefer unemployment comp rather than work a 2nd or third shift. So even if we solve the skills education problem we still have to cope with people who lack a work ethic.

  • dan

    Yes, great article. This article also confirms one of the things I've seen throughout my 40+ years since leaving the parents "nest". That is the unwillingness to move. Whether within or without a firm, one has to move to opportunities as they present themselves (or if none, move where such presentation is more likely). I can't count how many people I have seen in their early working years (20s and 30s) who refused to move. While in "the nest", I saw both my parents have to move to take advantage of promotion opportunities in their respective careers. It was just SOP. In my career, it was expected that you were able to move. Now, with a more entitlement oriented society, perhaps more people expect opportunity to move to them; and believe that they are not wrong, it's "the system" don't ya know that's keeping them back.

  • scum

    The real Solyndra scandal is that the govt didn't put enough money into it. Therefore, China is now poised to lead the world in the next stage of hi-tech energy b/c of their huge investment, which will reap billions in dividends. The U.S., meanwhile, will continue its slide into oblivion, as hunger sets in and businesses shutter.

    • pagegl

      The real Solyndra scandal is that the company was going downhill rapidly before they got any federal funds, folks in the government knew it and recommended against throwing money at them, and the administration, in its desire to highlight "green" jobs, ignored what lots of people knew.

    • kitefisher

      The Solyndra scandal is what it is: yet another fleecing of the taxpayer to finance political paybacks for BO. China's solar panels will not doubt be something akin to China's sheetrock – flawed and poisonous. The real scandal is China Oil & Gas massively tapping our natural resources while our wannabe President-for-life and his bureaucratic cadre of pinko commies and mental midgets casually look the other way.

  • steven l

    This is BS!

  • mrbean

    Long term planning and investment in production and profits must precede the creation of jobs. However, that is almost impossible without higher risks in the nanny state. Pat Buchanan says: “We have accepted today the existence in perpetuity of a permanent underclass of scores of millions who cannot or are unwilling to cope and must be carried by society — fed, clothed, housed, tutored, medicated at taxpayer’s expense their entire lives. We have a dependent nation the size of Spain in our independent America. We have a new division in our country, those who pay a double or triple fare, and those who ride forever free.”

  • azdebi

    Is it just me or does anyone else remember that the DAY Obama took office the internet became inundated with ad after ad pushing STUDENT LOANS and "GOBBERMENT" FUNDED GRANTS for COLLEGE education?!? Seems like the same ol' pattern…Remember…just a few years before the 2008 mortgage bubble burst, every other person in my neighborhood proudly announcing that they'd gotten their real estate license in order to take advantage of the "easy" money scheme in the "flipping houses" market…I do believe I have ceased being surprised…now I'm just purely disgusted!

    • matchingset

      Yes, absolutely. The ads are everywhere including the Brownshirting encouragement by Homeland Security. Meanwhile the banks are in cahoots with the educational "institutions" and the gov wants to keep their hand in the til. It is all a well oiled machine, just like the Frank-Dodd bamboozle in the housing market and our gangsta gov keeping the Infanticide Industry going great guns and extorting monies as taxes and calling it revenue. Crooks and traitors. A treasonous group.

  • brimp

    Try this yourself: ask young college graduates open ended questions about anything (no multiple choice) and you will find that they don't know very much about American history, economics, or politics. Here are a few of the questions that I have asked and answers that I have received : Who was the second President of the United States? Abraham Lincoln. When did Columbus discover America? 1882. Who is your congressman? No Idea. Is the Federal Reserve part of the United States Government? Of course. What are the limits of governments' authority? No idea. How many stars are there on the American flag? One for every state – 53. Again, try this for yourself.

    • azdebi

      WOW…scary isn't it? I honestly believe that our universities are nothing more than a propaganda tool and that our youth are simply being "groomed" to be nothing more than useful idiots to "serve the "State"…Time to end the nationalization of our education system, return control it to the States, home school our kids and come up with alternatives to the university system altogether!

  • Fred Dawes

    Why so many jobless Americans? 3 word Propaganda, lies,hope..It will always kill a people and kill a nation.

  • socal

    What we are witnessing are the fruits of the 60s generation. The generation that threw off the shackles of GOD and his teaching to go their own way. The narcisstic , do your own thing generation, without thought of consequences is about to KILL America. We have bred a new generation that are undisciplined,unmotivated and uneducated with little repect for authority. These thins are taught in the early formative years. If it doesnt happen then, when young characters can be molded possitively, can you really expect responsible behaviors when they become adults? This is great news to the political party willing to subsidize this behavior of irresposibility for votes.

  • mrbean

    Ever wonder why black youth unemployment is so high? It is obvious.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHyug2PvpB8
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnWlTyZLQhQ

  • Toa

    The high school I attended in the later '60s has done away with their "yucky" wood, metal and auto shops and replaced them with vital courses which are crucial to the survival and prosperity of the country: Dancing and Ceramics. (sarc/off) A friend who lives near the school told his adult son about this, and the son responded "But Dad, you get slivers, and stuff in your eyes in those classes!!"
    We had a visit with a friend who is a pro mechanic recently (we are mechanics ourselves, among many other things), who told us of getting a distress call from a home-stranded motorist. When he arrived at the guy's house, the car was in the garage with a flat tire, and this full-grown man either didn't know how, or just didn't want to change the tire on his car.
    This is what we and our Intellectual/Feminist "elites" have done to our male children. God bless men like John Ratzenberger who see this terrible trend and are doing something about it!!

  • jgo

    The USA has plenty of highly-skilled workers. If anything, we have had a glut of bright, industrious, creative US citizen STEM workers for the last 20 years.

    http://www.kermitrose.com/econ01NoShortage.html

    http://immigration-weaver.blogspot.com/2011/10/sh

    http://www.kermitrose.com/jgoEconData.html

    OTOH, there is evidence that employers are going out of their ways “NOT to find a qualified and interested U.S. worker. And, you know, that in a sense that sounds funny, ahh, but it’s what we’re trying to do here… So certainly we are not going to try to find a place [at which to advertise the job] where the applicants are going to be the most numerous. We’re going to try to find a place where, again, we’re complying with the law, and hoping, and likely, not to find qualified and interested worker applicants. So that’s the process that we will go through with you from the beginning onward…” according to lawyer Larry Lebowitz of Cohen and Grigsby, while his colleague, Ms. Barton said “If it gets to the point where they’re, somebody’s looking like they’re very qualified, we ask them to have the manager of that specific position step in and go over the qualifications with them. If necessary schedule an interview, go through the whole process to find a legal basis to disqualify them for this particular position. In most cases that doesn’t seem to be a problem… you can eliminate them…”

  • jgo

    According to former cross-border bodyshop executive, Vivek Wadhwa, found that US STEM workers are the best “every which way”:

    “U.S. engineers… [are] more creative, excelled in problem solving, risk taking, networking and [have] strong analytical skills…”
    http://www.kermitrose.com/econ200707.html#2007070

    “Dozens of employers asked to compare American engineers to their much-vaunted colleagues from India and [Red China] agreed that ‘in education, training, quality of work, you name it, in every which way, Americans are better’.

    Even the best schools in those countries ‘don’t hold a candle to our best schools.’, he continues.

    ‘Newly hired American university graduates ‘become productive within 30 days or so.

    If you hire a graduate of an Indian university, it takes between 3 and 6 months for them to become productive.’”
    http://www.kermitrose.com/econ200801.html#2008010

  • PROUSA

    Even with great unemployment we still have corps insisting there is a labor shortage. Isn't it more plausible they simply want more immigrants to continue flooding the US labor markets and force US wages down? How else can you explain that an overwhelming percentage of H-1B, L1, OPT workers come from the low wage countries such as India (forget Japan or Western Europe)? Also, around 60% of H-1B's are rated at the lowest skill level. Let's stop making US workers compete with the entire world through easy immigration policies!!

  • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

    So many Americans are jobless because so many of the jobs in America are garbage.

  • EngiNERD

    AND here's the mantra:

    "The goal is NOT to Find and American worker!"
    http://www.youtube.com/programmersguild

  • http://web.me.com/yocuzwaasup/Daniel_11_32/Welcome.html Anthony

    I believe the old fashion (School) way.

    You may not like it BUT … This is why America is in the "dire straits" it's in.

    God, Dad, Mom, Child,
    Dad Works
    Mom HOME with children
    AND GOVERNMENT stays OUT of their Business (UNLESS Family is NOT following GOD'S Game plan …

  • PhillipGaley

    For—I'm guessing—say, 50yr, the large and grand Benson Technical High School in Portland, Oregon turned out guys and gals skilled in the trades and home economics, then, I don't know, say, 15 years ago, the Industrial and Home Economics were cut out, and Benson went pc—y'know, . . . artsey and soft tech.
    Not that long ago, SOSU in Durant, Oklahoma offered a degree in Home Economics—they bunched it.
    But, the real problem—seems t'me—was: where were the parents to say: "Hey! No way!"? Parens patria—is the Almighty State, now the parent? Seems t'be, . . .