Extremely Grim and Troubling

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that the U.S. has suffered a declining life expectancy again, and it marks three consecutive years for this terrible trend. Life expectancy in the U.S. has fallen 0.3 years since 2014, which is incredible given the trend to longer lives witnessed by most developed nations.  As a point of comparison, Japan leads in life expectancy at slightly more than 84 years. The U.S. has fallen to 29th place in the world rankings.

According to the CDC&P and the WSJ, which reported on the release of this data, the main culprits are suicides and overdoses (deaths from synthetic opioids rose 45% in 2017), both impacted by the state of mind of many Americans (despair).  Incredibly, this is occurring during a supposed period of economic expansion and prosperity, but we all know that the economic benefits have not trickled down to many.   In fact, suicides have increased by more than 33% since 1999. Furthermore, the data suggest that significant differences exist based on where one lives, with rural Americans suffering to a far greater extent than those living in cities.

There is some hope expressed in the data that opioid and suicide deaths may be plateauing, but the evaluation period (first few months of 2018) is certainly not long enough to get one too excited.  Furthermore, despite advances in mental healthcare, drug treatment, improved opioid prescriptions monitoring, and the greater availability of medication to reverse opioid overdoses, root causes for this heightened despair must be addressed.

The U.S. labor force has undergone significant change with a greater emphasis being placed on as needed employment. In addition, we do have a significant percentage of our workforce that are underemployed and for those, not in the workforce, a significant mismatch exists between desired skills and current capability, with little ability to retrain many of our more mature workers. It is a dangerous combination for many of our displaced workers.

There really is no excuse that the United States with its abundant wealth and superior medical capability should have a declining life expectancy.  None!

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