5 x 8: The part-time generation


It was a sobering report on Marketplace last evening that described a generation to which anyone over 40 or so cannot possibly relate — a generation without the freedom to plan for the future. As the economy adds jobs, Adriene Hill reported, it’s important to note that in many cases they’re part-time jobs and jobs without benefits. They won’t last that long, not long enough to give the generations living in the economy the ability to count on it. And if you can’t count on your job, you can’t really make a future.

I spotted an ad for a part-time job at Lowe’s that “requires morning, afternoon and evening availability any day of the week.”

It’s happening across the economy. Just in reporting this story, I talked to a phlebotomist who can’t afford to live on her own, a zoo employee whose hours are too low to qualify for health insurance, a shoe salesman who has to upsell customers to earn more hours. Some of my colleagues are on contracts.

“Labor avoids being a fixed cost and can be shifted around depending on the employer needs,” Kalleberg says. But these tenuous jobs rarely meet employees’ needs.

“It creates a lot of uncertainty and insecurity; it may lead to a situation where they don’t have health insurance, because they don’t have enough hours. So it creates a very unstable and uncertain existence.”

Related: The Beginning of the End of Unpaid Internships (Time.com)


The Census Bureau gives us a little bit of the future with its release that death exceeded births for white non-Hispanics in the U.S. for the first time in about a century. It says by the end of the decade, the decline of the white population should be well underway.

The transition will mean that “today’s racial and ethnic minorities will no longer be dependent on older whites for their economic well-being,” Dr. Frey said. In fact, the situation may be reversed. “It makes more vivid than ever the fact that we will be reliant on younger minorities and immigrants for our future demographic and economic growth,” he said.

The viability of programs like Social Security and Medicare, Dr. Frey said, “will be reliant on the success of waves of young Hispanics, Asians and blacks who will become the bulwark of our labor force.” The issues of minorities, he added, “will hold greater sway than ever before.”

Asians were the fastest-growing major ethnic or racial group, the survey said. It also noted that the median age in North Dakota — a state that once exported its youth — has declined.

Related: Minnesota's minority population fuels state's modest growth – TwinCities.com.


The Star Tribune documents our ability to reach new lows with its report of the woman (apparently) who’s running around the Linden Hills neighborhood stealing people’s plants.

Flowers, bushes, trellises and statues have been taken from at least a dozen boulevards and yards, causing losses of thousands of dollars and putting local business and homeowners on high alert. To thwart the as-of-yet elusive thief, some are taking elaborate steps — establishing an e-mail alert system, installing motion detectors and keeping watch at night.

“It’s just a mystery,” said Jeanne Long, whose garden was raided three times last year and again last week. Long has lost plants and artwork, including a watercolor painting and a collection of antique pitchers displayed on her front porch.

It’s clear this is the work of a light-fingered green thumb who has an eye for the finer things.

“They know what plants they want — whatever is unusual,” said Abby Rutchick, who has been hit multiple times, losing about 20 ornamental bushes from her boulevard. “It really dampens your spirits.”

And the thievery isn’t confined to easily accessible flora in front yards. “The person actually came into our fenced back yard and took a 5-foot hibiscus out of the pot,” said Shari Davis. “How brazen is that?”

The money line: “All of the targets are impatient to catch the thief.” Get it?


Why so angry, Lego person?

A new study says Lego characters released since the early ‘90s are proportionately more angry. The authors of the study figure the increase in anger may be related to theme sets.

“We cannot help but wonder how the move from only positive faces to an increasing number of negative faces impacts how children play … The children that grow up with LEGO today will remember not only smileys, but also anger and fear in the Minifigures’ faces,” the report said.

It’s only a matter of time before an alleged criminal invokes “the Lego defense.”


This ad for a Civil War commemoration in a town west of Rochester did what it was intended to do. It motivated me to find out more about the “boys of Wasioja.”

Sixty-eight men from Dodge County would serve in Company C with the 2nd Minnesota, the Rochester Post Bulletin reported a couple of years ago. Only one came back to Wasioja.

Bonus I: More on the tragic story of the young child left in a hot van in Moorhead (wrote about it yesterday): The Fargo Forum says changes in routine seem to be the common these of these sorts of tragedies. And a Grand Forks mother relives the day it happened to her.

Bonus II: Today in the the ongoing surveillance story: Why "I Have Nothing to Hide" Is the Wrong Way to Think About Surveillance reports Wired. Why it’s so much about nothing, writes Thomas Friedman.

Bonus III:
Big game tonite. It’s the Congressional Baseball Game. Roll Call has the coverage. (h/t: Michael Stalberger)

Bonus IV: A pitch for bone marrow donors from 1,800 miles away (KansasCity.com). A young man threw out the first pitch at last night’s game in Oakland, even though he was in Kansas City.

What is the best live musical performance you’ve experienced?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: TSA screening practices.

Second hour: Playwright Judy Juanita joins us to talk about her autobiographical novel, ‘The Virgin Soul,’ which follows a young woman who joins the Black Panther Party in San Francisco during the Civil Rights Movement. She’ll also discuss what it means to be a black woman writer, and the ways in which black literature gets pigeon-holed into ‘urban lit.’

Third hour: Anna Badkhen’s career as a foreign correspondent has taken her to Mali, Iraq, Chechnya and Russia. She has reported from war zones and conflict areas. But her newest book took her back to Afghanistan, where she has visited many times since September 11. In this book, Badkhen recounts her time in Oqa, a remote Afghan village, exploring the tension between Afghanistan’s violence and poverty and its incredible beauty.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): A debate from the Intelligence Squared series: Does America need a strong dollar policy? Steve Forbes and three other finance experts debate the value and integrity of our money.

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – At a two-day summit described as “unique, positive and constructive,” President Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping agreed to work together on North Korea, and talked around the thornier issue of cyber-security. Guest: Rob Gifford on the U.S. relationship with China.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – – Pilgrim Baptist Church in St. Paul was founded in 1863 by a group of African American men, women and children who traveled up the Mississippi River from Missouri to Minnesota on the Underground Railroad. The church is still a cornerstone for social justice. MPR’s Sasha Aslanian has the story.

NPR considers the best music albums of the year.