The Epidemic of Unemployment
Coronavirus lockdowns have been the death knell for many small United States businesses. The World Economic Forum reported on May 5 that 34 percent of small American businesses are still closed due to covid-19 restrictions. Nearly 99.9 percent of all businesses in the U.S. are small businesses that employ 47.3 percent of the nation’s private workforce.
Many large businesses have been allowed to stay open due to being an essential service and have seen unprecedented growth. For example, Amazon profits increased 200 percent from January 2020 to January 2021. In the process, Amazon added 250,000 jobs to its fulfillment services. As long as the lockdowns continue, big businesses like Amazon will keep expanding.
However, America is beginning to open up and ease restrictions, which gives many small businesses a chance to recover lost profits during the summer months. The U.S. currently has 9 million open job opportunities with 10 million unemployed.
The problem is a majority of unemployed Americans have no urgency to find a job.
The Indeed Hiring Lab surveyed 5,000 people in the U.S. between ages 18 and 64; the June 29 report showed that 25 percent are afraid of covid-19 and are waiting for vaccination rates to increase before finding work. Twenty percent say they have a financial cushion, and around 12 percent say unemployment insurance is the reason they are not urgently seeking work. The survey wrote: “There’s an urgency mismatch in the U.S. labor market at the moment. Many employers want to staff up quickly in order to seize the opportunities afforded by the reopening U.S. economy. But many workers don’t feel the same way. In fact, only about 10 percent of survey respondents said they were urgently looking for a job.”
The main reason for the slow return to work is coronavirus. Either people are waiting until a larger majority of Americans become vaccinated, or they would rather keep living off unemployment benefits until they run out. Another factor is the kind of jobs available. Most of the available jobs are low wage in the manufacturing and service industries. Steven Fazzari, an economist at Washington University in St. Louis, told Axios: “These jobs are not very good. They’re hard work, and they don’t pay very well. They might be able to pay the rent or pay the utility bill without that job.”
This is another consequence of lockdowns: Even when businesses have an opportunity to recover some of the losses from the epidemic, people would rather stay home with their benefits than find a job.
This trend is especially evident in young people.
According to a study conducted by the Center for Economic Policy and Research, around 3.8 million Americans between ages 20 and 24 were not in employment, education or training during the first three months of 2021. That is up 24 percent (740,000) over 2020. This metric is known as the neet rate.
The 2019 U.S. Census tabulated around 21 million Americans between ages 20 and 24. That means 18 percent of them are choosing not to work or go to school. If we correlate this data with the latest unemployment figures, it is possible that 38 percent of those unemployed are in the age bracket of 20 to 24.
This points to an obvious conclusion: A lot of young people do not need to work because they have a financial safety net—either their parents or government handouts. Pew Research from September 2020 showed that 52 percent of people between ages 18 and 29 were living at home with their parents—that is 26.6 million young adults. Researchers pointed to covid-19 “pushing” young people back home, and the reaction to it did create unemployment and stopped education for many people.
But now that America is reopening for business, we are starting to taste the first bitter sip of what lockdowns have done to our youth. Now with 9 million open jobs, nearly 4 million young people are not working, and many have no urgency to become financially independent from their parents. This is not true across the board, but these statistics do show a disturbing trend. Augusta Victoria Saraiva commented on this trend at Bloomberg: “Inactive youth is a worrying sign for the future of the economy, as they don’t gain critical job skills to help realize their future earnings potential.”
In other words, these years are crucial for building future success. If a young person does not work during these crucial years, it is much more difficult to build skills, experience and a career plan that allows the growth of earning potential: moving beyond low-wage, high-impact jobs to employment that allows them to support a family and be financially stable. Herbert W. Armstrong wrote about how important these years are in his pivotal book The Missing Dimension in Sex:
The years between ages 16 and 25 are the vitally important years of adult preparation for life’s work. These are the crucial years of preparation. During these years the mind is capable of acquiring faster than at any other stage of life the advanced knowledge needed before beginning one’s adult career—whether it be business, profession, occupation or marriage.
This is yet another blow to the social fabric of America that will impact the already frail backbone of the country: the nuclear family. Young men spending these years in idleness, without working or preparing for the future, will not be prepared to lead a family.
Saraiva also warned that “high neet rates may foster environments that are fertile for social unrest.”
America has been reaping the harvest of social unrest. The turmoil over tearing down statues, Black Lives Matter protests and violence in American cities has been fueled by young people. Young people with nothing to do, slighted ambitions, or no life goals, become easy fodder for the many organizations seeking to foment social unrest in America.
In his article “The Cure Is Killing Us,” Trumpet executive editor Stephen Flurry wrote about how the response to covid-19 would have many unintended consequences on America. He wrote:
These measures will no doubt save lives that would have been cut short by this virus. But they are also coming at incalculable cost—to our economies, our livelihoods, our civil liberties and freedoms, our social cohesion, even mental and physical health. In many ways it appears the ramifications of the reaction to the coronavirus will dwarf and far outlive the virus itself.
Unemployment, an unwillingness to work and social unrest are only a few of the consequences that are just beginning to appear. And these are only playing into larger prophetic trends. To learn more about the breakdown of family in Bible prophecy and what you can do to protect your family against the tide of society, please order a free copy of Mr. Armstrong’s book The Missing Dimension in Sex.