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Unemployment: The scourge of our nation

Published July 10. 2010 09:00AM

The unemployment rate continues to linger above nine percent. This is actually an improvement and we were recently told we have turned the corner. Tell that to those seeking work and cannot find a job.

The real unemployment rate is actually at just over 16 percent. Why the two numbers? The official government unemployment rate is based on those who are actively seeking employment. Many people have given up and stopped looking for work. They do not count as unemployed as they are considered to be discouraged. It is easy for those of us with jobs to ignore the unemployed or to downplay the harm this does to those affected by this recession and their families. My heart goes out to those who are between positions and actively searching for work. I am disappointed by those who are out of work and milking the government for all they can rather than looking for a job.

We also have to look at the underemployment rate that is almost 10 percent. Many of those laid off had highly paid jobs. Rather than staying on the dole, they lowered their expectations and took part time jobs instead of full time positions. I personally know several people who are working at or near minimum wage who used to have $70,000 a year jobs. They want to work in their profession, but with jobs scarce, they took what they could get rather than waiting for the perfect job. These people are also victims of the recession. When taken together, the unemployment and underemployment rate is somewhere over 20 percent. At least a fifth of our workforce is either out of work or in positions that are below their skill levels.

Looking at the other side of the coin, I also talked to several people who are on unemployment insurance, but they are not even looking for a job. The benefit extension to 99 weeks made their day! Let's face it, they may not have liked their old job and they are not interested in going back to work when they can get by on unemployment. They will go back to work when unemployment runs out. Until then, they are having a fun-filled furlough paid for by the taxpayers.

I believe that our current policy of extending benefits is compassionate but misguided. Until recently, 26 weeks of benefits was all that people could receive. When that ran out, they were left without an income. People would then take jobs that they otherwise would not take. They may have been underemployed, but they got back to work while they continued to seek a job in their profession or at their skill level.

I believe that small business is the key to restoring jobs and our economy. The government has done nothing to encourage small business formation. They are too busy bailing out their banking friends and political contributors. In the last few months, we have personally helped five people who were unemployed start four businesses. This created eight full time jobs and about eight part time jobs. For two of these businesses, we provided small amounts of start up money as a loan. For the other two, we just helped them understand their skills and got them started. When banks will not lend money, when governments will not support business creation, individuals can work together to build small businesses, the primary employer of our nation. Helping create a few jobs may not seem like much, but if other retired executives did the same thing, we could have thousands of new jobs. Let's encourage our retired executives to use their energy and experience to mentor the younger generation. They will create one or two jobs with each business.

The path has not been easy for the new business owners. They continue to work hard building sweat equity in their businesses and establishing a customer base. I consider three of these businesses to be successful, and one will be successful in another few months. So far, it looks like we will get all or almost all of our money back with interest. I expect that before the end of the year, they will grow their businesses and hire another three or four people. Clearly, by supporting each other we are building a better society.

If the government is serious about creating new jobs, they should consider deporting all of the illegal aliens. Presidents Hoover, Truman and Eisenhower initiated the deportation of millions of illegal immigrants to create jobs for Americans. We deported them then, and we can deport them now. People who say that Americans will not do this type of work do not understand that some of our citizens want to work and will take any job that they can. The prior deportations created millions of jobs for our citizens. Some of them worked in fields, some in mines, some on roads, building the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System. They were productive, they saved, they bought houses and they raised families. Most of all they were proud to be American and recognized that work was good no matter how hard it was. Let's round up the illegals and send them home now! Then lets cut unemployment benefits after 26 weeks. The unemployed will find jobs and rejoin the workforce, paying taxes instead of collecting benefits.

We cannot expect the government to put people back to work. Each of us has to do what we can to support each other. Buy American made products. Hire legal residents to fix your roof or do your yard work. If one of your friends is unemployed, sit down with them to see if they have the skills to start a small business. Whether the business is opening a deli or making and selling soy candles, it increases our productivity. Let's put America back to work now.

© 2010 Gordon Smith - All Rights Reserved

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