The greatest story that’s currently under-discussed is what’s happening with those who’ve been traditionally left behind in our economy. While you’re likely aware that we have record low minority unemployment, unless you’re specifically someone who’s experienced increased opportunity personally, you may not really appreciate what’s been happening over the past couple of years.
It’s easy to look at employment information and see stats. Yeah, the stats matter but the people mean most of all. For decades during times of prosperity, we commonly see those who are the most educated and best positioned in their careers benefit greatly, while those most vulnerable in the workforce continue to struggle. With recessions occurring every four or so years, often it’s been those who’ve been the least educated and vulnerable who’ve been among the first to lose employment. But over the past couple of years, as we’ve been able to set records for minority employment with the economy continuing to build on its success, we’re seeing something else play out.
According to new Census data, since 2012, incomes have grown the fastest for those who are the least educated and generally most vulnerable in the workforce. The Census data also showed those with a high school or lower education increase by 14%. That's the biggest increase by any group based on education. Over the same period, the lowest growth has come with those holding associate degrees at 4%. Yes, those with the lowest levels of education still earn the least on average, and there’s no indication that’s going to change, but what this points to is something that’s potentially life-changing for millions. It’s not just about the ability to earn more money for those in the workforce, it's about the opportunity.
Many people can do good work and work their way up in their career path if they're just given an opportunity. During normal economic times, those best positioned have always seized first on the opportunities. This time the economy is good enough and has maintained its strength long enough, that millions of people, often minorities, are finally given the opportunity to succeed in the workplace. Those skills and that experience will permanently set families up for better lives.
It’s also a reminder about why it’s important to keep the threshold for entry-level employment, IE minimum wage, reasonable and manageable from a business standpoint. People benefit most from opportunity. Artificially high minimum wages aren’t helpful to people who aren’t working.
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