The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Waiting For Jobs, and Hurting

Jul 17, 2017

Janet Yellen, chair of the Federal Reserve, recently acknowledged that the opioid epidemic is so serious that it is affecting the U.S. labor market.

This epidemic follows a major increase in painkiller prescriptions in the 1990s, followed by addiction to drugs like heroin and fentanyl – which is often deadly. Last year, about four times as many people died of overdoses as were killed in all homicides in the U.S.

While Yellen did not say that the crisis was caused by unemployment, she did link it directly to job opportunity decline. For a government official, that was as close as she would or could get. But we don’t need a U.S. bank official to explain that the two are connected.

In fact, in 2000, 219.4 million people had at least some work per week. In June 2017, only 204.7 million have any work at all — even just one hour a week! Nearly 15 million jobs have completely vanished, with others disintegrating into part-time. We are short 22 million full-time jobs.

The unemployment crisis hit a long time before the opioid crisis. It hurts to be out of work, without a paycheck for your family. No wonder that so many try to block out the pain, while they wait for something to happen.