Opinion: Unemployment, population growth are tricky problems

Editor’s note: This letter was written in reply to a letter in the Burlington Free Press (Jan. 9, Page 2c), in which University of Vermont economics professor Art Woolf proposed that Vermont increase its population in order to decrease unemployment.?
As a nation runs out of natural resources (oil, gas, coal, uranium, firewood, iron, fertilizer, water, etc.) its production of “things” decreases. GNP, GDP and other economic indices decrease. Economic “growth” decreases. Job production decreases.
If population (from immigration or births) is increasing simultaneously to decreased economic “growth,” unemployment will soar. Job production cannot keep up with population growth.
Our planet and most individual nations are on track to produce this scenario.
We all agree that we are running out of cheap, accessible natural resources. We all agree that world population is increasing annually by about 80 million. (An elimination of world abortions would add about 40 million live births to the 80 million.)
Thus, with increased population and decreased economic growth, unemployment is guaranteed to soar. This will lead to poverty, hopelessness, frustration and friction/terrorism.
The bad news is that most nations have NO natural supplies of oil or gas or coal. The good news is that the U.S. has enough reserves of all three to last for at least 80 to 120 years.
Our long-term question is, what should we do now?
Our short-term question is, how do minimum wages and more immigration affect unemployment, and what should we do now?
Dave Van Vleck

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