Of course, that $18k bartender might be feeling pretty lucky compared to the nearly three quarters of a million Americans who simply gave up and left the labor force — just in October. Breitbart.com’s Mike Flynn writes that “this exodus pushed the labor force participation rate down to 62.8%, the lowest level since 1978.” Flynn adds that the number of Americans with jobs actually fell by 735,000 despite the creation of those 204,000 new jobs.
The real fun might begin next month, when Healthcare.gov is supposed to be up and running, and ready to deal with the expected rush of millions seeking new insurance policies before the New Year. Let’s assume that the site is functioning well enough, even if only barely, and that the state exchanges are up and running, too. Millions are going to find themselves facing the twin devils of higher premiums and higher deductibles. That means they’ll take home less pay, and have to sock away more money into savings. The resulting reduction in consumer spending — 70% of the U.S. economy — could be a body blow to our already weak growth.
Or suppose the rush never materializes, since only 22% of the uninsured actually plan on buying ObamaCare policies. That’s the “death spiral” insurers fear, when rising prices force out the young and healthy, leaving them with nobody but the old and sick. At the start of the new year, our economy might just be looking at a collapsing insurance industry, declining consumer spending, rising underemployment, and a shrinking labor force — all at once.
So if you’re lucky enough to be one of the employed and insured and the healthy, be sure to give your bartender a bigger tip. And tell him to make it a double.