Jun 9 2013

Immigrants will be important part of US economic recovery over the next few decades.

The decline in the US participation rate is largely due to demographic shifts.  This is absolutely true.  However, the other side of the coin tells us that the other reason for the participation rate drop is that structural changes are occurring in the US.  It should be apparent that any closed door policy will prove to be a hindrance in the long-term.  Take a look at Japan that has essentially a demographic disaster on hand partly due to the lack of immigrants into their country.  The US was built on immigrants and given our aging population it will be important to keep this trend continuing.  The market needs steady growth and mature economies will have challenges if they don’t confront the trends in fertility but also their older and longer living aging population.

A look at trends in immigration

Here is an interesting look at this challenge:

US population growth with and without immigration

Source:  Census

Clearly the last thing one would want is to phase out immigration in the US without resulting in major damage to the overall economy.

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Apr 6 2013

Fast food American economy: Professor states that low pay jobs part of future. College degree required for McDonald’s job.

It was interesting to hear a Columbia Professor mention that fast food jobs should not be considered as the bottom of the rung of jobs.  These lower paid service sector jobs are actually part of the norm and will be growing.  As the US economy begins to get more and more bifurcated we can expect to see some major extremes.  Recently fast food workers went on strike yet the media seemed not to pay any attention to this.  Of course we are seeing some major strains in the economy.  Is this simply part of our new economy?  Before, being part of the working class was almost seen as an easy road to achieve for most Americans.  Now, even the college educated have a tough time going after the American Dream.  What the Professor mentioned was extremely harsh but it is simply part of the new economy where many workers have very little protection.

This is why it should be no shock that a McDonald’s in Massachusetts posted a job opening where a college degree was required:

“(Huff Po) Hopefully “Do you want fries with that?” is a phrase they teach in college classrooms.

A McDonald’s in Winchendon, Mass., is apparently requiring potential cashiers to have a bachelor’s degree, according to a recent job posting. The ad, posted on jobdiagnosis.com, also says that applicants should be “friendly” and able to “smile while serving lots of guests daily.”

The job opening is with an “independent franchise,” but it also appears on the McDonald’s corporate site, albeit with no note of the bachelor’s degree requirement. McDonald’s corporate headquarters didn’t immediately return email and phone messages seeking comment.”

Don’t you just love this current recovery?  Well at least the food is affordable and healthcare bill is very high but that is a problem for tomorrow.

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Feb 27 2013

Law school applications collapse: Applications to law schools heading to a 30-year low.

Law school applications are falling to 30-year lows.  The concern of course comes from a weak employment market but also the crushing amount of debt required to complete a law degree.  Many prospective students evaluate their decisions based on this and plan accordingly.  Also with information being readily available, students can also compare notes very quickly and adjust their future educational goals.  Back in 2004 there were 100,000 applicants to law schools while this year it is down to 54,000.  This is a dramatic trend change but also reflects something that is rarely talked about.  Many parts of higher education have entered into bubble territory.  That is, prices simply do not justify the actual program.  Where do things go from here?  Can law school applications continue to fall?

Number of law school applicants heads to 30-year low

The number of prospective students applying to law school has fallen dramatically:

Source:  New York Times

The chart above shows an unmistakable trend.  Of course all of this comes in the face of extremely expensive degrees.  Many students are finding that they are landing jobs that don’t even require a law degree:

“(NY Times) In recent years there has also been publicity about the debt load and declining job prospects for law graduates, especially of schools that do not generally provide employees to elite firms in major cities. Last spring, the American Bar Association released a study showing that within nine months of graduation in 2011, only 55 percent of those who finished law school found full-time jobs that required passage of the bar exam.

“Students are doing the math,” said Michelle J. Anderson, dean of the City University of New York School of Law. “Most law schools are too expensive, the debt coming out is too high and the prospect of attaining a six-figure-income job is limited.”

This is only the tip of the iceberg here.  Many other high cost programs will see similar changes as the country edges to an economy where the majority of jobs are low wage and a handful of high paying positions.  This was the case in law in previous decades as well but the amount of debt taken on to finance these ventures was never so dramatic.
The fact that law applications are so low should tell you something.  Prospective law students are smart and they are starting to figure it out.

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