As the debate in this country focuses on the budget, entitlement programs and if Charlie sheen is in fact "Winning," we can't lose sight of the biggest obstacle to our economy and our country right now, jobs—or the lack thereof.
Recent employment numbers have been mixed - some positive, some less than. But make no mistake this crisis is far from solved - as evidenced by a new USA Today analysis.
Overall only about 45% of Americans had a job in 2010. That's the lowest point since 1983.
And the study breaks it down by age and gender. Men - not surprisingly - are still a majority of the workforce - but their numbers have been on a decline for decades.
In the 1960s more than 80% of adult men were employed. Last year that number dropped below 67%--the lowest number on record.
Meanwhile, during the 1960s and 1970s only about one-third of women were employed. But that number kept rising through the mid-nineties when more than half took home a paycheck.
That growth was off-setting the loss of working men, that is until that percentage leveled off in 1999. In fact last year only 56% of women were working.
Due to a lack of jobs, more and more people are forced to retire earlier, putting an even further strain on the nation's entitlement programs: Social Security and Medicare.
The paper points out the average retiree gets $25,000 a year in benefits, meaning that taxpayers will pay about a half million dollars caring for a senior. With 77 million baby boomers already set to retire, that price tag is going to explode!
So we can sit here and talk about bank earnings and retail sales and company revenues and a bull market. But as important as all that is - we don't have a recovery if half the population is not working.
Putting people back to work is change I can believe in.
Gerri Willis is the host of "The Willis Report" (5PM/ET), a primetime program that covers the leading financial and political stories of the day and their impact on consumers. Click here to see more from Gerri Willis.