population; employment; job creation
Note: Revised and updated version of a letter which appeared in the Boulder Daily Camera, 7 OCT 2012. Dr. Bartlett is Professor Emeritus of Physics, University of Colorado at Boulder, and a renowned speaker and writer on population issues. Albert.Bartlett@Colorado.EDU
Politicians and business people look forward eagerly to the announcement of the number of new jobs created in the US each month. News stories around the country often report on the monthly number of new jobs nationwide. Recently the figure has ranged from 40,000 to 100,000. A couple of these stories in my local paper pointed out that we have to create around 125,000 new jobs each month just to take care of population growth in the US!
To check if this number is approximately correct, we note that the population of the US is a little over 300 million and the current population growth rate is a little under 1% per year, which means that the population of the US is increasing by about 3 million people per year.
We can guess that half of these people are workers and the other half are dependents, so we have an increase of about 1.5 million workers per year in the US. Divide this by 12 and we get 125,000 new jobs needed each month to accommodate population growth in the US, confirming the approximate correctness of the number quoted above.
With this in mind, it’s no wonder that the employment rate has not gone down even though lots of jobs have been created. We need even more new jobs just to keep up with population growth!
In his closing remarks in the first of the Presidential Debates, Mitt Romney promised, “I will create—help create—12 million new jobs in this country with rising incomes.”
If you imagine 12 million new jobs in 8 years this is 125,000 new jobs a month, just enough to keep up with population growth, but without any reduction of the number of people now unemployed!
The availability of resources, including food and water, needed to support these new people and new jobs is declining rapidly, causing prices to rise. This leads to hardships for all. Ultimately it will lead to limits on growth itself. It is difficult to think of any problem that is truly alleviated by more population growth. Such growth generally stresses economic systems and family and individual incomes, especially problems of growing unemployment figures.
How long do you suppose it will take before someone in the Congress or the Administration in Washington, DC connects the dots and realizes the urgency needed for we in the US to stop our country’s population growth?