June goes to college, earns a degree, gets married, buys a house with her husband, has four kids -- and at the age of 32 goes back into the workforce, holding down two part-time jobs to help pay the family's property taxes and tuition bills.
Jane graduates from high school but not college, gets married but is almost immediately divorced and has one illegitimate child. She drops out of the workforce in her 20s and never returns. She collects food stamps and enrolls in Medicaid.
Jim does not graduate from high school, but eventually gets a GED. He worked part-time jobs occasionally in the past. But now he is on disability because of a mood disorder -- which he treats by smoking medical marijuana. As far as he knows, he has no children.
Which of these hypothetical Americans would be more likely to admire Sen. Ted Cruz? Which would be more likely to admire President Barack Obama? Which would you pick for your neighbor?
The truth is America must become more hospitable to June if we want to survive as a free and prosperous country.
The Congressional Budget Office issued a report last fall examining the slow rate of growth in the U.S. economy following the last recession.
It concluded that the single most significant factor now limiting America's potential economic growth is the declining growth of the potential labor force -- which has recently increased at only half the rate it did in the years following World War II.
"That slower growth of potential employment primarily reflects three developments," said CBO. "The most important is that, since about 1980, demographic trends have slowed the growth of the population that is working age and, therefore, the growth of the potential labor force."
"In several earlier recoveries, the baby boomers were entering the labor force; now, they are beginning to retire," said CBO.
"Another important development is an end to the long-standing increase in women's participation in the labor force, which had boosted the growth of the labor force in recoveries before 2000," said CBO.
To put it plainly: The Baby Boom generation did not have enough babies to keep America's economy growing as vigorously as it did in the past, and women today are less inclined to enter the labor force than they were a decade ago.
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