America is undergoing a stealth employment crisis—yes, employment rather than unemployment. Of the two crises, the employment crisis is far more important to resolve.
US private sector employment is collapsing at a greater rate than most people realize. Of the 96 million, 83% are employed with service-providing industries, and 17% are in goods-producing industries (manufacturing 11%, construction 5%, and 1% mining/logging). As a percentage of the total population, the total private sector workforce declined 13.7% in the last decade. In addition to the 96 million employed in the industrial sector, approximately 2 million are employed in the agricultural sector, which is now less than 1% of our total population.
The US used to be the greatest manufacturing country on earth. As a percentage of the total population, US manufacturing has declined 55% in the last three decades. During the 2008-2009 Great Recession, manufacturing lost 5.6 million of the total 8.4 million job losses.
In the 19th century, agriculture was America’s dominant form of employment. In the mid 20th century, US manufacturing provided of 1/3 of all jobs in the US. Today, agriculture and manufacturing represent less than 5% our population for a total of only 14 out 309 million citizens. These trends cannot continue if the US wants to recover economically and return to prosperity. It is imperative that we stop any further decline in these critically important areas. Unfortunately, it will be difficult to significantly increase domestic agricultural and industrial employment. Therefore, America must look to the next generation of jobs, which will be predominantly information-age jobs with emphasis on small business in the services-providing sector.