Monday, August 30, 2010

Labor Day 2010 - Bad News for American Workers

Next Monday, September 6, 2010, is Labor Day in the United States and Canada. This is a holiday that was originally created in June of 1894 by the U.S. Congress to honor American workers (less than a month after this Act of Congress, the Canadian Parliament followed suit and declared the same day -first Monday in September - as a national holiday in Canada honoring its workers).

Unfortunately, for many American workers, this will be the second Labor Day holiday in a row in which over 14.5 million American workers (9+% of the American labor force) find themselves listed as being officially unemployed.


Official unemployment refers to civilian workers who are both unemployed AND actively looking for work. In addition to the over 14.5 million officially unemployed workers there are an additional 1.2 million so called discouraged workers or workers who have seen unemployed so long that they have given up looking for work.

Since the discouraged workers are no longer looking for work they are not included in the official unemployed category - however, they still have no job.

While the official unemployment rate is about 9.6% overall (and this does NOT include the 1.2+ million discouraged workers) it is not distributed evenly throughout the workforce. Some regions with in the U.S. have rates higher than the national average while others have a lower rate. Similarly, the rate for college graduates is a little lower than than for non-college graduates.

The worst hit are teenagers. According to a recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) a full 26.3% of teen workers are unemployed. Again, these appear to be those who have been laid off and are looking for work. Many more are no longer looking for work.

For the past two years the current Administration and Democratic controlled Congress have been trying to pull us out of the current recession and reduce unemployment with failed Keynesian policies. It is time to accept the fact that the theories and policy prescriptions of the late John Maynard Keynes are useless and replace them with new pro-growth policies.


Links to My other Labor Day Articles:

Labor Day and the North American Labor Movement

What is Labor Day?

Labor Day in America

Selling Last Semester's Textbooks Online

In a previous posting four years ago I discussed how the Internet was changing the college textbook market.

At the time I published that post my daughter had recently graduated from college and I estimated that I had I had paid about two-thirds less for her books by buying them online than if she had purchased them used from the bookstore.

I haven't had as much luck with my son saving on textbook costs. First of all, he hasn't been as good as my daughter was at getting the ISBN numbers for me. A big part of his problem is that the college bookstores have been using various tactics that make it difficult or impossible to obtain the ISBN numbers needed to get the exact textbook each course requires. Tactics like shrink wrapping the book with the ISBN number covered up or having students hand a list of the needed textbooks to a clerk who then retrieves them rather than allowing students access to the shelves with the books are two such tactics that make it impossible to to get the ISBN.

However, despite the problems with obtaining the information needed to accurately order books online, the cheap used textbook market on the Internet is not only still going strong but is also continuing to provide strong competition to college bookstores and textbook publishers. The competition has been so great that bookstores and publishers are being forced to discount their prices.

While I am finding it more difficult and time consuming to save money buying my son's college textbooks online, I am offsetting some of my costs by selling his textbooks from last semester online. Amazon.com, eBay and eBay's Half.com division are among the many sites that make buying and selling of used textbooks and other books easy.

The main key to successful selling is to have your books listed on a site before the start of a new semester. I put my son's most recent collection of textbooks from last semester on Half.com (a site I have been using for years to buy and sell books)a couple of days ago and have already earned $60 from the sale of three books. Prices, of course, vary greatly depending upon supply and demand but, in today's economy every little bit helps.

Half.com and similar sites are also great places to sell books other than textbooks as well as other media such as DVDs and games.

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