Angst is “a feeling of anxiety, apprehension, or insecurity.” Many of us feel it acutely right now—and that’s new. Angst isn’t a temporary, individual thing anymore. Now we all feel it together—or at least most of us do—and it’s not at all temporary.
If our nation’s work rate today were back up to its start-of-the-century high, well over 10 million more Americans would now have paying jobs. And that employment shortfall makes a real difference to the growth of the economy.
There Are Only Two Ways to Grow the Economy
You either have to grow the number of people working. Or you have to increase their productivity. If you remove 10 million American workers from the labor force, not only are they not producing anything, the vast majority of them are clearly consuming the fruits of the labor of those who are employed.
Couple that trend with reduced productivity, and we will be lucky to see even 2% growth for the rest of the decade. If we have a recession, we will end up with a lower GDP than we have today.
Think about that. And then plug it into federal budget projections.
Employers Lack Qualified Workforce
Meanwhile, employers feel a different kind of angst.
Everybody is apprehensive about the future. The common complaint from businessmen is not that they need more capital and the ability to borrow money from banks. But that they need more good workers in order to attract more good customers.
The Result Is Trump
This widespread angst among employers, employees, and those who aren’t working is one big reason Donald Trump is now president.
That is far too simplistic an analysis. It was also their bosses, spouses, parents, and friends.
A huge swath of the country was experiencing a yawning disconnect between the reality of their daily lives and the supposedly growing economy touted by politicians and media pundits.
American culture used to be known for its optimism. Its can-do spirit. That quality hasn’t vanished. But it has surely lost some of its luster this century.
And that trend has been in place for almost a decade.
The hope that the situation was temporary probably let people tolerate much worse conditions than they should have.
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