Friday Five, February 1, 2014

There are several troubling parts of this story, but one that caught my attention is that the idea of common Christian values can be considered “extreme”. When the population accepts that a line of thinking or a believe system is “extreme”, it is easier for them to support government action to remove the extreme ideology from contact with and existence within the population. This is why Governor Cuomo’s comments that “extreme conservatives have no place in the state of New York” are so troubling. How does he define “extreme”? Those who are pro-life and pro-gun. I had dinner recently with a friend who commented that he enjoys reads my “extreme conservative views”. He was serious in his description of my views. I don’t think it’s far away when Christianity will be considered “extreme” and the Bible will be considered hate speech because of the Lord’s teachings that relations between the same sex and/or relations out of marriage – is sin. What our culture holds is this: As long as the love between two people is sincere, it’s holy love that is acceptable to God. The Bible doesn’t teach this. But that doesn’t matter. Views that have been accepted for decades in the country and even millennia by other cultures are fast on their way to becoming “extreme” in our society.

Out of state applications to the University of Colorado are up 43%. But don’t automatically conclude this is a result of the new marijuana laws. University officials says the increase is due to increased recruiting efforts and the use of a common application that helps prospects apply to multiple colleges with a single application. OK. I must ask: are the school officials smoking it too?

With all of the quantitative easing (QE), one might wonder why we’re not experiencing much inflation. It stands to reason that when the money supply is increased, the value of each dollar falls and so prices must rise in order to retain the same buying power. The rise in prices is inflation. The answer to this question is to look at the Equation of Exchange: M · V = P · T, where:

M: It’s simply the total amount of money present in the economy

V: Velocity: how often each dollar (bill) is used over the course of a year. This quantity depends on the saving habits of the people in the economy. If they are keen on saving, the bills will only pass through a few hands each year, thus V is small. The combination of these two quantities is the total spending in the economy. For example: if there are M = 100 billion $ in the economy and each dollar is spend V = 5 times per year, the total annual spending must be M · V = 500 billion $.

P: Price. It tells us the average price of a good in the economy. If there’s inflation, this is the quantity that will increase.

T: Transactions – the total number of goods sold over the entire year. The product of these last two quantities is the total sales revenue in the economy. If the average price of a good is P = 25 $ and there are T = 200 billion goods sold in a year, the total sales revenue must be P · T = 500 billion $. It is no accident that the total sales revenue equals the total spending. Rather, this equality is the (reasonable) foundation of the Equation of Exchange.

So, if we increase the money supply M in the economy and the spending habits of the people remain unchanged (constant V), then the combination of total spending must increase as well. Total spending can increase through inflation or through a rise in the number of transactions. Now, recall that prices are determined by an equilibrium of supply and demand. If demand drops, the retailers have to lower their prices to sell off their stocks. Similarly, if demand suddenly increases, the retailer will be able to set higher prices, resulting in inflation, unless, of course,

So, if you’re wondering why the QE hasn’t resulted in significant inflation, work the equation and learn what happens when one or more of the four variables is manipulated. You can learn more here, here and here.

Looks like Amazon wants to send you stuff before you order it. It’s called “anticipatory” or “speculative” shipping. Hmmm………………

Finally, would you like to watch a sitcom on TV called Selfie? Well, it’s coming this Fall……

Bill English, CEO
Mindsharp

 

Labor Force Participation Rate: Is it as Bad as People Think?

A paper public back in 2006 and co-authored by five members of the Board of Governors for the Federal Reserve System is worth noting in today’s environment. Titled The Recent Decline in the Labor Force Participation Rate and Its Implications for Potential Labor Supply, this paper focuses on why the labor participation rate had dropped from 2000 thru 2006 and then looked at what would happen with the participation rate moving into the future.

Quoting from the paper:

“On balance, the results suggest that most of the decline in the participation rate during and immediately following the 2001 recession was a response to business cycle developments. However, the continued decline in participation in subsequent years and the absence of a significant rebound in 2005 appear to derive from other, more structural factors. Indeed, the participation rate at the end of 2005 was close to our model-based estimate of its longer-run trend level, suggesting that the current state of the labor market is roughly neutral for the participation rate. Finally, projections from the model suggest that many of these structural factors will continue to put downward pressure on the participation rate for some time, so that any future cyclical fluctuations in participation will take place around a declining trend. This continued downtrend, coupled with slower projected population growth and an apparent downtrend in the average workweek, suggests that trend growth of aggregate hours will slow further in coming years.”

The paper predicted, back in 2006, that the average labor force participation rate for 2013 would be 63.3%. According to the BLS, the average participation rate for 2013 is 63.258% or 63.3%.

Well, now.

It seems that demographic shifts, as boomers head toward retirement, have as much to do with our lower labor force participation rate as does anything else in our economy. Conservatives won’t like this because it chips away at the foundation for their persistent bashing of the President and his policies. While I’m no fan of our current President, this research shows that the lower participation rate is not due, entirely, to our sluggish economy.

Read more here.

Bill English, CEO
Mindsharp

Leadership Lessons – Part IV: David Fights Goliath – Part I

We’ll spend this lesson and the next in the 17th chapter of 1 Samuel:

1Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah. Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.

A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him.

Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” 10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.

12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons, and in Saul’s time he was very old. 13 Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: The firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah. 14 David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.

16 For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.

17 Now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this ephah w of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. 18 Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them. 19 They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.”

20 Early in the morning David left the flock in the care of a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry. 21 Israel and the Philistines were drawing up their lines facing each other. 22 David left his things with the keeper of supplies, ran to the battle lines and asked his brothers how they were. 23 As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. 24 Whenever the Israelites saw the man, they all fled from him in great fear.

25 Now the Israelites had been saying, “Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his family from taxes in Israel.”

26 David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 27 They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, “This is what will be done for the man who kills him.”

28 When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.” 29 “Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” 30 He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before. 31 What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him.

32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” 33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”

38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.

“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.

41 Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. 42 He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. 43 He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”

45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.

50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. 51 David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.

When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. 52 Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath and to the gates of Ekron. Their dead were strewn along the Shaaraim road to Gath and Ekron. 53 When the Israelites returned from chasing the Philistines, they plundered their camp.

54 David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem; he put the Philistine’s weapons in his own tent.

55 As Saul watched David going out to meet the Philistine, he said to Abner, commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is that young man?” Abner replied, “As surely as you live, Your Majesty, I don’t know.” 56 The king said, “Find out whose son this young man is.”

57 As soon as David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with David still holding the Philistine’s head. 58 “Whose son are you, young man?” Saul asked him. David said, “I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem.”

Philistines – the Constant Thorn in Israel’s Side

Philistines are constantly fighting the Israelites. They must have some economic control over the Israelites (1 Sam 13.19-22) since the Israelites must go to them to for blacksmithing services. The armies meet, but the idea is to send one man out to battle to represent the entire army. This was an effort to avoid mass bloodshed on both sides. Of course, it didn’t work – but it was a noble idea. Symbolically, the Philistines represent our sin – our enemy, nemesis & life-long battle

In this story, the enemy is Goliath, who was over 9′ tall (Uffdah!). His armor weighed (roughly) 125 lbs and the tip of the spear was (roughly) 15 lbs. Some have scoffed at the idea that a man could be over 9 feet tall, but there is ample evidence that some men in recent history have been over 8.5 feet tall, so it is not out of the realm of possibility.

Goliath comes out armed for battle, protected, arrogant and defiant and he seemed impossible to defeat. The ultimatum is simple: win or lose. If you lose – you serve us. Hence, they are betting national security and independence in this battle. Like Goliath, there are problems we face that can seem larger than life and impossible to defeat. They can weigh us down and seem as if they are more than we can carry. These problems might take on similarities of Goliath: they appear well armed for battle (difficult to defeat) and they may evoke fear and trembling within us. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this, but there have been times when my problems seemed so insurmountable that I would wake up with waves of fear sweeping over me. It’s not a fun place to be. The trials of life can seem big, overwhelming, impossible to win and stronger than us or God.

God allows trials to test our faith (James 1). The enemy will try to leverage trials to defeat our faith (Job 1, cf 2.9).

When it comes to winning and losing, the Way of God vs. the World is stark. In God’s economy:

  • We win by losing
  • We prosper by giving
  • We lead through service
  • We lose our lives to save it
  • We become wise by becoming fools
  • We become strong by becoming weak
  • That which seems big is small
  • That which seems strong is weak
  • That which seems protected is vulnerable
  • Ultimatums are hidden opportunities

Israel – the Picture of Weakness

The Israelites are the picture of weak, faithless followers of God. Saul and his army were “dismayed”, lit. shattered, can’t keep it together and
“terrified”, lit. intimated + frightened + awesome. They melted when Goliath came out. Why? Saul was not leading them to the Lord – Saul was afraid too. Saul was operating under his own power, not the power of the Holy Spirit. It is important to note that the masses rarely rise above their leadership. Saul was scared and faithless – hence, the entire army was that way too. Without God, they didn’t have a solution to overcome their problem.

Fortunately for them, however, David found all this to be utterly disgraceful. In our next lesson, we’ll see how faith overcomes adversity. We’ll learn that when one relies on the Lord and then acts under His guidance and direction, victory is the outcome. And we’ll see that when you move out in faith for the Lord, sometimes, those closest to you will represent your greatest opposition.

As a Christian Business Owner, are you facing problems today that seem insurmountable? Do you wake up with waves of fear and terror at night? Do you see no way out of your mess? If so, this is the time to quiet yourself and turn to the Lord. Rely on Him, the one who reminded us at the end of John 16 – “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world!” [emphasis added]

Bill English, CEO
Mindsharp

Movies that Encourage

I know a lot of what passes for entertainment is less-than-desirable for most Christians. There are also a number of Satanic-oriented movies that promote raw evil. I’d like to suggest that there are a corresponding set of movies that promote Christian values.

Unstoppable. The movie focuses on answering the question: “Where is God in the midst of tragedy?”

The Ultimate Gift. A young, restless man becomes mature and learns that giving to others is the Ultimate Gift.

The Ultimate Life. Filmed after the Ultimate Gift, this is the prequel to the Ultimate Gift, yet it continues the story into the future.

Joshua. What would Jesus be like if he came to a small American town?

The Passion of the Christ. A starkly realistic film of what Christ went through to save us from our sins.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. In retrospect, this is a film about Christ, set in an enchanted and mythological land.

The Nativity Story. A Realistic story of the birth of Christ.

You all might have other ideas that portray Christ in a positive light. Please post if you think of any.

Bill English, CEO
Mindsharp

Managing Up – the Biblical Way

If you find yourself in a position of working for someone else or being managed by someone else, the Scriptures speak to how you are to conduct yourself.  Consider these passages:

Proverbs 16.13: Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value the one who speaks what is right.

If Kings take pleasure in honest lips, then it stands to reason that your manager will find the same pleasure in your honesty with him.  You will be valued because you speak the truth.  In my speaking travels around the country, when I speak to those who manage people, I ask a rather direct question:  “Do you believe that you receive the full, unvarnished truth from those you manage?”  Each time, the answer is “no”.  But also, each time, the underlying theme is that they wished they received the full, unvarnished truth so that they could respond better and make better decisions.

To be sure, some managers don’t want the truth. But most will – if its’ delivered with calmness, modesty and respect. Am I naïve?

Ecclesiastes 10.4: If a ruler’s anger rises against you, do not leave your post; calmness can lay great offenses to rest.

If your manager’s anger burns against you, remain calm and stay at your work.  Your calmness can lay a number of errors to rest if the manager’s anger is created through mis-information.

Proverbs 15.1: A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Gentle answers turn away wrath.  If your manage is angry with you, a calm, gentle answer will turn away their wrath, unless, of course, you’ve not performed to expectations and the manager’s anger is justified.

Proverbs 27.18:  “…he who looks after his master will be honored”.

Aligning your agenda and focus to that of your manager will help you succeed.  In this verse the honor is assumed to come from the master and the application is that your manager will honor you.

Some will say that these verses are sheer folly. All I’ll say is that this is God’s truth. Your better to act on truth than not.

Bill English, CEO
Mindsharp

Competition: A Brief Biblical Review

Competition is the cornerstone of our economic system.  Competition causes everyone in the “game” to be better than they thought they could be or it weeds out those who can’t compete effectively.  In our economy, it nearly always drives down prices while increasing the quality of the service or product for the customer.  In nearly all cases, the customer wins when there is fierce, but fair, competition.

The Bible speaks to competition, but sometimes in the way we expect:

Jeremiah 12.5: If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? The implied answer is that you can’t compete – in other words – we all have limits to what we can compete against. Sometimes, the competition is just too tough for us to realistically overcome.

1 Corinthians 9.25-27:  “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” Paul recognizes that competition requires discipline and training in order to stay in the race. The training must serve the purpose of making the individual qualified to receive the rewards of success.

2 Timothy 2.5: “Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules.” Even Paul recognized that competition must be fair and needs to be regulated. Rules that setup fair competition are needed in any society in order for businesses to compete. The rules should provide equality of opportunity, not equality of results.

These three passages, then, give us these principles on competition:

  1. Not everyone can compete in every race
  2. In order to compete and have a chance at winning, one must be disciplined and well-trained.
  3. Fair competition requires regulation with enforcement of disciplines when the rules are violated.

Personally, I am not a lassie-fair-oriented free market guy, mainly because of the 2 Timothy passage. Instead, I’m more of a smart-regulations free market guy. In other words, markets need regulation in order to provide equality of opportunity. Many will disagree with me on this. That’s fine. But I do believe that competition is Biblical in nature.

When we teach our kids that effort is always more important than outcomes, we are not teaching them truth. In their early years, their efforts should be rewarded and encouraged. However, as children grow older, they should be learning that results sometimes matter more than the effort behind them. Adults would do well to learn this too.

Bill English, CEO
Mindsharp

Friday Five January 24

The administration is focusing on the growing income inequality that they claim exists in the United States. Never mind the fact that this is happening on their watch or that this entire argument assumes a zero-sum game. This blog post adds a different perspective – one that may change your thinking on the income inequality push.

If you blog on the internet – as I am doing right now – then your blogging is entitled to the same protections as those afforded to journalists. At least that’s the ruling of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. This protects internet speech in our country – something that is needed if we’re to stem the tide of government censorship on unwanted speech that is politically abhorrent to those who hold power at any given time.

In Oregon, a Christian couple who own a bakery have denied services to a gay couple seeking a wedding cake for their wedding. They gay couple sued on grounds of discrimination. The Bakery owners believe their religious beliefs give them the right to refuse to offer services that violate those beliefs. This is a slippery slope. I own a training company. Should I be forced to provide training to a company that traffics in adult pornography? What if I have a religious belief against gambling? Can I deny my company’s services to Indian Reservations who derive income from their casino operations? What do you think?

Our national debt is approaching $17.3T. Nearly $5T is debt that the government owes itself. The debt owed to the public is less than $13T. That’s still a lot, but it’s not as bad as all of the $17T being owed to the public.

And I quote: “The bottom line is that corporations are profitable, the stock market is doing very well, the FRB is pushing on a string to create job growth, and corporations have no incentive to do a lot of hiring. This leaves us with a Fed that will keep Quantitative Easing in place and thus create more potential for inflationary pressures and problems in the future.” Seems to me to be about right. The longer QE goes on, the more likely it is we’ll face a significant inflationary economy in the future.

Bill English, CEO
Mindsharp

Is This Religious Persecution in America or a Brazen Display of Intolerance?

I think by now most of us have heard of this court case where a bakery owner in Oregon denied services to a gay couple for their wedding based on their personal religious beliefs. Should a business owner be forced to provide services to anyone willing to pay for their services? Can or should a business owner have the right to deny services to anyone is his or her denial is grounded in his or her religious beliefs? What do you think?

Other sources:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/01/20/state-rules-oregon-bakery-that-refused-to-make-a-gay-wedding-cake-violated-lesbian-couples-civil-rights/

http://www.examiner.com/article/state-says-sweet-cakes-by-melissa-violated-same-sex-couple-s-rights

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/02/sweet-cakes-by-melissa-closed-_n_3856184.html

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/01/21/christian-bakery-guilty-violating-civil-rights-lesbian-couple/

 

Bill English, CEO
Mindsharp

So, You Want to Start a Business?

In a sense, this entire site can be thought of as the answer to the question: “How Do I Start a Business?” There are literally hundreds of places you can go to find out how to file the proper forms, permits, incorporation papers and other legal aspects of starting a business. Our site here is more targeted to who you are as you start and run your business. When a person owns a business, everything in that person’s heart will be laid bare for others to see – vendors, employees, partners, contractors, customers – all of them will see what is in your heart. I firmly believe that whatever dysfunction you bring to the venture will be imputed onto the organization you own and run. This is why our Christian Business Reference Architecture (CBRA) starts with several factors that will be part of your business:

  • The quality of your faith in God
  • The freedom you have from the bondage of sin
  • Your ability to recognize that Satan is working against you and what you can do to stem his attacks
  • Your recognition that your business is a gift from God to be stewarded for His purposes
  • Your active participation in being mentored as well as in mentoring others

All of these elements emit from you as a person – your character and your belief systems. What you believe and who you are will determine more your ability to succeed than will all of your talents, brains, skills, experiences and personas combined. While it might appear that many who lack faith in Christ are successful in business, I would counter that creating profits and growing a business are only one of several core measures of success. Remember that “success” is defined by God – not by us. And His definition is the one we need to consider and pursue.

Most people who are starting a business ask tactical questions first – How do I form a corporation? How do I grow enough work to hire my first employee? What will my business name be? Should I rent space? What should I price my products and services at? All questions like these are good and necessary questions to ask.

All I ask is that you start with the strategic first – and that starts with you. Use the CBRA and take time to work through it. Ask yourself the questions in the CBRA and see if you’re really ready to start a business. You don’t need to be perfect, but you’ll give yourself a much better chance to success *IF* you have taken the time to consider who you are as a person, if you understand God’s purposes for business and if you’re able to develop the character to not screw up the whole thing.

Bill English, CEO
Mindsharp

My Challenge to Christian Business Owners

It’s easy to get upset when we look at the numbers coming out of the Department of Labor. When you dig into the numbers – even just a bit – they are revealing about our economy. In my opinion, we are swiftly approaching a structural unemployment level that will be more and more difficult to undo the longer we continue in our current trajectory. As Christian Business owners, we have a unique opportunity to make a positive impact in this area.

Unemployment

The Unemployment Rate stands at 6.7% nationally. Here is the information:


Year

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Annual

2003

5.8

5.9

5.9

6.0

6.1

6.3

6.2

6.1

6.1

6.0

5.8

5.7

 

2004

5.7

5.6

5.8

5.6

5.6

5.6

5.5

5.4

5.4

5.5

5.4

5.4

 

2005

5.3

5.4

5.2

5.2

5.1

5.0

5.0

4.9

5.0

5.0

5.0

4.9

 

2006

4.7

4.8

4.7

4.7

4.6

4.6

4.7

4.7

4.5

4.4

4.5

4.4

 

2007

4.6

4.5

4.4

4.5

4.4

4.6

4.7

4.6

4.7

4.7

4.7

5.0

 

2008

5.0

4.9

5.1

5.0

5.4

5.6

5.8

6.1

6.1

6.5

6.8

7.3

 

2009

7.8

8.3

8.7

9.0

9.4

9.5

9.5

9.6

9.8

10.0

9.9

9.9

 

2010

9.7

9.8

9.9

9.9

9.6

9.4

9.5

9.5

9.5

9.5

9.8

9.4

 

2011

9.1

9.0

9.0

9.1

9.0

9.1

9.0

9.0

9.0

8.8

8.6

8.5

 

2012

8.2

8.3

8.2

8.2

8.2

8.2

8.2

8.1

7.8

7.8

7.8

7.9

 

2013

7.9

7.7

7.5

7.5

7.5

7.5

7.3

7.2

7.2

7.2

7.0

6.7

 

 

A 6.7% rate would be a sign of things getting better if it wasn’t for the other numbers. What other numbers, you ask? Well, consider the following:

  • The change in the unemployment level was -490,000 in December of 2013 – which means that the number of people counted as unemployed dropped 490,000.
  • Those who found new jobs were 143,000 in December
  • Those who left the work force because they have given up looking for work was 347,000. Add the latter two numbers and that’s how you get to 490,000.

You see, the much touted unemployment number is called the “U3” number – this is the official unemployment rate. However, the U6 number is more important and more telling because it includes those described as “marginally attached” and that group includes those who are “discouraged”. The U6 number is fully described as:

“Persons marginally attached to the labor force are those who currently are neither working nor looking for work but indicate that they want and are available for a job and have looked for work sometime in the past 12 months. Discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached, have given a job-market related reason for not currently looking for work. Persons employed part time for economic reasons are those who want and are available for full-time work but have had to settle for a part-time schedule. Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data.”

The U6 number is 13.1%, nearly double the “official” unemployment rate. The unemployment rate for those between the ages of 16 and 19 is 20.2%. Even worse, the unemployment rate for the black community, overall, is 11.9%. Black men and women between the ages of 16 and 19 are experiencing an unemployment rate of 35.5%. By comparison, Hispanics in the same 16-19 age bracket are experiencing an unemployment rate of 22.3%.

If you have a bachelor’s degree and are over 25 years of age, you’re in a 3.3% unemployment scenario. If you graduated high school and have no college education, your unemployment rate is 7.1% and if you didn’t graduate high school, it’s 9.8%.

Your Challenge

If you’re a Christian Business owner, I invite you to consider more carefully how you can provide products and services to the community that enable the community to flourish (Purpose #1). Perhaps you can do some training to give those unemployed better skills and education to land a job. Perhaps you can do some mentoring. Perhaps you can afford to hire one or two people, even if you don’t need them. But if all you do is complain and moan about the incompetence of those in government, then you’ll never be part of the solution. Government is limited in what it can realistically do for people, in spite of politician cries to the contrary. As Christian business owners, all of us should ask the Lord how we can improve the lives of those experiencing unemployment and some of us will be asked by the Lord to forego some profits for the good of our fellow man.

So today, get on your knees and ask God what you can do – as a business owner – to help lower the unemployment rate. You might be surprised at what you hear back! And then get going on what God is asking of you.

Bill English, CEO
Mindsharp

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