SOCIAL UNREST, UNEMPLOYMENT AND UNION DENSITY: THE NUMBERS DON’T LIE

In recent years, there has been an increase in attention given to the issue of underemployment in the U.S. Specifically, many of those concerned by U.S. unemployment rates are focusing on the issue of “underemployment” – meaning people who have jobs but aren’t making enough to cover basic expenses – noting that this demographic is not factored into many of the statistics used as indicators of economic improvement since the 2008 collapse.

As many have observed, the problem is no longer something that affects the undereducated workforce but applies equally to young American with graduate degrees. In spite of spirited rhetoric about putting America back to work, the jobs crisis may be worse than you think. Last year, William McGuinness reported in the Huffington Post that of the “41.7 million working college graduates in 2010, about 48 percent of the class of 2010 work jobs that require less than a bachelor’s degree, and 38 percent of those polled didn’t even need high school diplomas, the report found.” The problem is compounded further by the fact that these underemployed graduates are often saddled with crippling student loan debts.

A recent article featured in Bloomberg Businessweek titled “The Youth Unemployment Bomb” highlights the jobless problem facing youth around the globe, suggesting that unemployment plays a large part in the upsurge in social unrest and revolutionary activity. Additionally, the article provides shocking statistics illustrating that the United States is rapidly approaching dangerous unemployment levels that are second to collapsed economies like Greece. And while the Bloomberg contributor to the article concludes with the mandatory anti-union rhetoric common to the corporate media, the fact that the nations that appear most stable economically happen to be the nations with the highest union membership density and strictly regulated corporations. The article concedes that, in Germany, union-led apprentice programs have “helped keep Germany’s youth unemployment rate well below the European average.”

According to data compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Northern European countries maintain the highest density of unionized workers. In addition, these nations have proven to be some of the most resilient European nations throughout the international austerity crisis. According to the World Happiness Report 2013, created by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the top happiest nations are in Northern Europe. Additionally, the majority of these nations maintain more than double the union density of the U.S. Denmark maintains 69.5% union density, Sweden 67.5%, Norway 57%, while the United States (11%) ranks just below Mexico in both happiness and union density.

RAF Staff

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