Unemployment Rising

Yeast are fastidious little critters. They use an enzyme as dinnerware to cut their meal into bite-sized morsels. Since they apparently do little else, this qualifies as their major source of employment. Interestingly, in a yeast colony, not everyone pulls their own weight. Some freeload, letting others prepare the meal. Oddly, this does not prove detrimental to those pulling the wagon. In fact, colonies with freeloaders can actually outgrow those where every other little yeast mother is helping carry the load.

How does this apply to economics here in the U.S.? For all the talk from our government representatives about creating jobs, not much seems to be happening. In fact, we need to go back some eighty years to find a time when things have been this rough. The Department of Labor says 14.8 Americans are currently unemployed. Of these about 30%, substantially more than 4.5 million people, have been out of work for over a year. Many are now faced with seeing their extended benefits expire as they come up to their 99th week without work. It is estimated we will begin seeing millions lose all their benefits if Congress does not soon vote to extend them once again. Adding in the underemployed, we find roughly 17% of the working population is functioning below capacity. Now we can begin to get a feel for the enormity of our current labor crisis. At what point can a society, whether yeast or human, no longer carry the burden of unemployment and still grow? Remember, growth is considered the ultimate cure for what ails us.

Unproductive yeast, while cheating the system, don’t seem to do so to the colony’s detriment. In fact, at the end of the day I’ll bet the girls kick back, pop the top on a warm one and say, “This bud’s for me.” Here in the U.S. our unemployed are neither cheating nor freeloading. They may be discouraged; they may be desperate, but I suspect most do want jobs. At Atlas we are seeing many of our indicators beginning to rise incrementally. Our hope is that they will do so at an accelerating rate so that a full recovery will soon be baked into the loaf.