There are two related posts that I discovered today.
Low Jobless Rate Masks Problems by Kevin G. Hall
Poverty Mars the Formation of Infants Brains by Clive Cookson
The first article discusses a recent statistical change in the US labor market – long term unemployment is rising. It is currently 18% of those unemployed are without work for 27 weeks or more. To be fair, these numbers are reflective of certain states (Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Ohio and South Carolina) skewing the stats a touch, but that doesn’t mean they don’t count. They absolutely do. Long term unemployment is very bad for the economy because it means savings and insurance options are used up. These people are now dependent on social programs and the stresses that come with that.
The second article is from the Financial Times and it is about collected studies by the American Association for the Advancement of Science that found that children in poverty and low social status situations are exposed to unhealthy levels of stress hormones. This can impair neural development, especially for memory and language. The article says that between the ages of six months and three years are vital to combat the effects of poverty on children. It goes on to say there are means to effectively deal with these situations and not permanently place the child at a developmental disadvantage and those means are related to communications in the family and behavior management.
Now suppose you are out of work for more than 26 weeks. You have a toddler and a home payment. You are very close to using up your entire savings and credit. Are you stressed? Sure. Will those emotions be transfered to the toddler? Probably. Will states like South Carolina and Ohio have long term education and social ills as a result? I would guess yes. Will the costs of meeting the future needs of these people be more than working with the unemployed now? It is logical.
So next time you see the jobs report, take a look at the long term unemployment numbers.