In commenting on teenage unemployment and the lack of summer work for many young adults, the senator said that “1-in-3 without a high school diploma remains unable to find a job.” Out of work they turn to public assistance, adding to the “alarming trend” that “the workforce is shrinking and the welfare rolls are expanding.”
Here the senator is getting closer to one of the real roots of unemployment, especially among the young — the inability of workers without the training and skill to get a job.
One can argue, of course, that high school dropouts would take the low-skill, low-paying jobs if illegal immigrants were not taking them. Thus, unemployment among high school dropouts would decline and the welfare rolls would shrink.
Assuming that would happen — a questionable assumption at best - do we really want dropouts to become an economic underclass with little opportunity to rise above the level of minimum wage? Moreover, instead of shrinking welfare rolls, this would only shift the dropout from the welfare of the unemployed to the welfare of the underemployed.
The U.S. taxpayer is in effect subsidizing the large chain stores and franchises that pay their hourly workers so little that they qualify for food stamps and offer no health insurance; those workers often turn to Medicaid. No reduction of the welfare rolls there.
Does the solution rest in creating more opportunities for the undereducated and uninspired to work in low-skill, low-paying jobs. Or must we double our efforts to educate and inspire high school students to prepare them for college or technical training?
Sen. Sessions was correct to point out the problem. This page looks forward to the solutions he proposes.