Displaced older workers face much longer periods of unemployment, and many never secure positions that pay as well as the jobs lost. Many are digging into retirement savings well before they are 65, creating an army of near-indigent elderly a decade or two from now. To combat unemployment, the Federal Reserve has kept mortgage interest rates low, but this penalizes the elderly who rely on CDs and fixed-income investments. They are returning to work, often taking jobs and displacing younger workers. Stronger growth would help and is possible. Forty-two months into the Reagan recovery, GDP was advancing at a 5.2% annual pace. That would bring unemployment down to 5% pretty quickly. More rapid growth requires importing less and exporting more -- dealing with the $500 billion trade deficit on oil, by drilling more offshore and in Alaska, and, with China, by addressing its undervalued currency and protectionism.
Faster growth also requires right-sizing business regulations to make investing in new jobs less expensive and time consuming. Regulatory enforcement is needed to protect the environment, consumers and financial stability but must be delivered cost-effectively and quickly to add genuine value. However, unless America wants to sell what it makes cheaply, like so many Asian economies, it must have a smarter, savvier and better-trained workforce. Parents don't want their offspring on the vocational track. Hence, high schools have become, overwhelmingly, college preparatory institutions, when it is possible to prepare many graduates to directly enter the labor force in technical areas. College students don't want the hard slog through nursing or engineering. Art history and economics are easier and less intruding on the social aspect of college. Also, universities are too much run by professors who prefer to contemplate the shortcomings of their civilization than train young people to build it. In a nutshell, more and better jobs require pro-growth trade, energy and regulatory policies, and more realistic expectations among parents, students and the high schools and universities that train workers. Follow @pmorici1This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.