The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the latest round of unemployment numbers today. The current unemployment rate is sitting at 14.7%.
If you are not among that 14.7%, I see three ways to look at this problem:
- Erect a Somebody Else’s Problem field around it and keep going. Anyone who considers this a reasonable option probably isn’t reading this blog in the first place. (I hope not, anyway; I’d hate to think my writing appealed to that sort of person.)
- Drown in guilt and frustration over the unfairness of it all. I did that for a while this week. You may be shocked to learn that it benefited exactly no one.
- Let the math motivate you. When the world seems to be spinning out of control, I tend to close my eyes and trust-fall into the arms of Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, better known as the Father of Algebra. In the >30 years since I learned to solve for x, ol’ boy has never failed me.
With that in mind, let’s look at the numbers:
If 14.7% of us who normally have jobs are now unemployed, that means 85.3% of us are still working. (Note: The unemployment rate is different from the labor-force participation rate.)
If my scratch-paper scribbling is right, if every working person had the same income, the 85.3% of us who are still working could take care of the rest by sharing just 17.2% of our income.
We don’t all have the same income, and we can’t all afford to share that much. But honestly, I think 17.2% represents a worst-case scenario, because a lot of currently employed people are white-collar workers who can telecommute, and a lot of currently unemployed people are service-industry workers.
Because white-collar jobs tend to pay better than service jobs, we probably don’t need every currently employed person to give away $1.72 of every $10 s/he earns in order to pick up the slack; we just need all the current haves to take an honest look at our available resources and figure out how to leverage them to help as many of the current have-nots as possible.
If you identify as Christian, you already know a guy who did that at least twice and ensured that his initial investors got a pretty impressive ROI out of the deal.