But the shortage is particularly problematic in places such as Kosciusko County, where the unemployment rate rests at 2 percent. Of the county’s 41,136 adults who can work, 40,311 are employed, according to government statistics. This region — a land of clear lakes, duck farms and medical device makers — escaped the industrial decline that rocked other communities throughout the Rust Belt. It prospered, thanks to a local industry that proved largely immune to competition from China and Mexico. But without more people to grow Warsaw’s business, the chances of companies relocating is “extraordinarily high,” said Michael Hicks, a labor economist at Indiana’s Ball State University
The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 4.3 percent in May, the lowest in 16 years, so teens started looking for summer jobs in the best labor market since the tech boom of the early 2000s. The May unemployment rate for 16- to 19-year-olds was 14.3 percent, but teens usually find it harder to find jobs than their more experienced elders. Back in 2009, the teenage jobless rate hit 27 percent.
A think tank founded by San Francisco billionaire and environmental activist Tom Steyer to find solutions for income inequality in California released a sweeping report Thursday outlining the root causes behind the state’s widening wage gap and how Californians should go about closing it.
The report, produced by the Fair Shake Commission on Income Inequality in California, represents largely a collection of long-standing liberal policy positions and talking points. Steyer has previously insisted that creating and chairing the commission was not tied to his exploration of a possible 2018 gubernatorial run. But political strategists said it was difficult to divorce the group’s mission statement — and Steyer’s populist projects on issues like high gasoline prices and climate change — from the looming election.
But top economists now are pointing to another explanation. Women seem to be leaving the workforce for some of the same reasons men are: Middle-class jobs are in short supply and working at the bottom pays less than it used to. Single women without children drove most of the downturn in women’s workforce participation from 1999 through 2007, according to a study by Professor Robert Moffitt of Johns Hopkins University. Those women don’t have to care for a child and they aren’t counting on a partner to provide for them. They are, Moffitt said, “the same as a lot of men … even though it sounds a little strange to make that analogy.” They’re also staring down the same long odds as men who lost their footing in an economy in which low-skill jobs that pay well have all been shipped abroad or obliterated by technology.
The Fair Shake Commission report is an effort to help build a consensus about how we can come together to meet our common challenges. By coming together to generate ideas to help our working people thrive, we can show the nation and the world that American ideals are still alive and well, and are not bound by race, color, or creed.
This report offers ideas to level the playing field and to create opportunity for all Californians. It is borne from the understanding that a more inclusive, diverse California is key to a stronger future and that more inclusive prosperity leads to more, not less, economic growth.