Editorials

Labor intensive day; Are you chillin’ or shillin’?

Enjoy the Labor Day parade, but remember that the jobs outlook looks weak unless you want to work in the service sector. Education, job skills remain best path to prosperity.
Enjoy the Labor Day parade, but remember that the jobs outlook looks weak unless you want to work in the service sector. Education, job skills remain best path to prosperity. znizami@bnd.com

It’s a holiday for some. Put your feet up, relax and celebrate Labor Day because you earned it by working day in and day out. Or have you?

The employment participation rate in our country is at its lowest level since October 1977. Back then, the No. 1 song was “Nobody Does It Better,” the theme song from “The Spy Who Loved Me.” That was 15 James Bond movies — and four Bond personnel changes — ago.

Then and now, more than 40 percent of adults are not in the work force.

Another scary thought is that the U.S. Department of Labor projects that by 2024 civilian employment will grow by only 0.5 percent. Talk about evolution versus creation.

Also by 2024, employment of those 55 and older will grow by 19.8 percent, and 95 percent of all new jobs will be in the service sector. Now there’s something to look forward to.

Of course those totals are nationwide. Illinois traditionally lags behind the country, as is evidenced by our state having the 43rd worst unemployment rate. While Monroe and Clinton counties fare better than the state average, Madison and St. Clair counties help to pull the state down to 43rd place.

Of course working — for the fewer than 60 percent of us doing that — is a means to an end. Real wages versus purchasing power has also been stagnant since the Carter administration.

If you’re going to be in that fewer than 60 percent of folks who “get to work,” but you don’t want to work for peanuts (yes that’s a Carter reference), then follow the age-old advice and get enough education and have a skill. The average wage for high-skill employees is steadily 250 percent higher than the group without skills.

Does it make your head spin? Too heavy to ponder on a holiday? Don’t give it another thought. In two months we’ll elect someone who will fix everything — at least that’s what they’re claiming.

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