by Rob Schwarzwalder
September 7, 2012
Strong families lead to a strong economy.
This thesis is proven substantially and repeatedly by FRCs Marriage and Religion Research Institute in studies of the effects of family formation on economic growth (see, for example, The Divorce Revolution Perpetually Reduces U.S. Economic Growth).
We are now witnessing the results of family dissolution inAmericas troubling employment situation. The intact family, in which a married mom and dad raise children and worship together weekly, results in a better education for the children and a higher incentive for a Dad, or if need be, for both parents, to provide for their family.
These facts augment this mornings disappointing job numbers, not only because those numbers reflect more than 25 percent fewer new jobs than had been anticipated, but also because a closer look shows them to indicate a growing undercurrent of hopelessness among job-seekers.
Heres how the Wall Street Journals Phil Izzo explains it:
The unemployment rate is calculated based on the number of unemployed people who are without jobs, who are available to work and who have actively sought work in the prior four weeks. The actively looking for work definition is fairly broad, including people who contacted an employer, employment agency, job center or friends; sent out resumes or filled out applications; or answered or placed ads, among other things. That number declined by 250,000 in August, but it was overwhelmed by a 368,000 drop in the size of the labor force. That suggests that many of those 250,000 stopped looking for work not because they found a job, but because they dropped out of the labor force … (the labor force participation rate of) 63.5% is at the lowest levels since women first started entering the labor force in large numbers.
This interpretation is based not on partisan projections, but data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Heres what the BLS said this morning about the true nature of the unemployment situation:
In August, 2.6 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, essentially unchanged from a year earlier … There were 844,000 discouraged workers in August … Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.7 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in August had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.
According to the BLS, there minimally are 23.1 million persons unemployed, underemployed, or too discouraged to look for work. These are federal, not conservative or Republican, statistics.
To bring it back to families: As Drs. Pat Fagan and Henry Potrykus demonstrate in their new paper, Non-Marriage Reduces U.S. Labor Participation:
The long decline of adult male labor participation represents a withdrawal of able-bodied workers from productive employment. A persistent ‘gap’ exists between the employment rates of married men and unmarried men … Given the cultural-demographic drift away from marriage the risk of (economic) depression will be exacerbated over time.
This paper shows how among working-age men, half of the current labor drop-off is caused by this gap and the population shift away from marriage.
Marriage and children incentivize work. Cohabitation, divorce, and fatherlessness create dependency on government, a fact born out by the fact that now roughly one in seven Americans are receiving food stamps.
Are there other factors, such as tax and trade policies? Sure. But even if we somehow get them completely right, we cannot we meet our need for stable growth, and cannot foster the intangible but essential belief that families and individuals can have a brighter financial future, without a family unit that is sound, secure, and vibrant.