Column: A note of support for our young workers

I grew up during the jobless years of America’s great depression in the 1930’s. I have personally been laid off and unemployed during recessions.

Many of our young people are faced with difficult employment situations today. College graduates and many other young people are not able to find full-time work.

A recent Gallup poll showed that people feel that unemployment and jobs are still the biggest problem in the US. A May 30 survey by Rasmussen Reports found that 75 percent think that it will be tough for young people to find jobs this summer.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics data for April showed that US unemployment rate dropped to 6.3 percent. However, that does not tell the whole story.

According to a May 2 article by Victoria Stilwell in Bloomberg News the workforce participation rate is at a 36 year low because many people have quit looking for work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the percentage of people working dropped to 62.8 in April. This is the lowest since March of 1978.

Government employment data shows that the number of full-time employees has recovered some from the 2011 low of 112.5 million people in this recession. It was 118.07 million in April of this year. However, this is still below the numbers for 2006 through 2008. The peak was over 121 million full-time employees in 2007.

Part of the problem is a continuing sluggish economy. However, some is also due to government rules and regulations.

The federal government has redefined the full-time work week to be 30 hours under Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) rather than the standard 40 hours. This imposes an additional cost burden on some employers. Some cannot afford this cost and still stay in business. I know a woman who has worked many years for a local business who has had her workweek reduced below 30 hours because of this.

Other businesses have moved to hiring part-time employees under the new definition rather than full time workers. I met a young man working at a local store who told me he once had a full time job, but now works three part-time jobs to make ends meet. I know a young woman who also works three part-time jobs.

Many businesses are now hiring part time workers under the new healthcare definition. According to a January 22 Washington Times article, Minneapolis retail giant Target Corp. has dropped its healthcare plan for part-time workers. It reportedly will pay $500 to each employee who loses coverage. The part-time employees may then be able to qualify for subsidies under Obamacare.

Other businesses are also apparently hiring part-time employees rather than full-time ones. Many of the local job listings are now only for part-time work.

One of my grandsons is a college graduate who had to search for several months to find a job. It took a lot of determination on his part to find a position. The deciding factor in landing his job was his work experience in high school and college plus his college degree.

Many college graduates have degrees in fields where there is little or no demand. Other jobs go begging because young people do not have the training to fill them. There are several local manufacturing companies that cannot find people with the skills that they need.

We are fortunate to have our local Anoka Technical College where some of the skills that are in demand can be learned. Our junior and senior high school students also have access to the STEP program where they can get some of this training.

The young people that I know do want to work. Unfortunately, it appears that many of what were once full-time jobs are now becoming part-time.

I have the greatest respect for those who work at the jobs that are available. Those who are willing to work more than one part time job in today’s environment certainly deserve our support.

Chuck Drury is an Anoka resident, retired engineer and former technical director of Federal Cartridge Company.

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