Chapter 10. To Infinity and Beyond

Secure Employment for the Future

Bad times are coming for working Americans. In the next few years, millions of people who believe that they are secure in their jobs will be shocked to discover they're not.

When I wrote this chapter in the summer of 2008, the U.S. job outlook was increasingly grim. Official U.S. unemployment had recently jumped from 5 percent to 5.5 percent in one month—the biggest such increase in more than 20 years.

That sounds bad, but reality is even worse. As I explained in Chapters 2 and 3, the government uses incomplete statistics to mislead the public about inflation, measuring it with a carefully selected basket of items that it subjectively alters to minimize any increases. It excludes from that basket food and energy, two items that everyone needs but that might annoy the government by increasing in price quickly, dispelling the low-inflation myth.

The government uses similar subterfuge when it measures unemployment, counting only those people who have actively applied for jobs within the previous four weeks. That leaves out millions who have (1) become discouraged and given up their job hunt; (2) despaired of finding a job and are trying to start a business instead; (3) gone into early retirement because of the dismal job prospects for anyone over 50; or (4) are underemployed, working part-time or temporary jobs because they can't find full-time, permanent employment. If you include those who've given up looking for work—as ...

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