So, happy days are here again? That’s what many expect President Obama to say when he delivers his State of the Union address Tuesday.

An exodus of workers from the marketplace has reshaped families across the country. Today only 62.8 percent of the labor force is working in the United States, the lowest rate since 1978.

With unemployment down to pre-recession levels and the stock market soaring at record highs, Wall Street seems to feel that 2015 will be a banner year, and the president has put the economy in his win column. But many workers may feel like they are caught in a sequel to "Left Behind," a biblical story of mass disappearances, as many find themselves removed from economic opportunity.

An exodus of workers from the marketplace has reshaped families across the country. Today only 62.8 percent of the labor force is working in the United States, the lowest rate since 1978.

An exodus of workers from the marketplace has reshaped families across the country. Today only 62.8 percent of the labor force is working in the United States, the lowest rate since 1978. In fact, for everyone who found a job, about as many gave up the hunt or were too discouraged to try. The unemployment rate isn’t falling so much as people are falling behind, locked out of the new economy being re-engineered around them.

In recent years, 77 percent of all new jobs created were part-time in low-wage fields. And while many on the left advocate for a raise in the minimum wage to create more financial opportunity at the bottom, restricted hours mean that advances would be slight at best.

In fact, Pew researchers recently reported that American wages “have been flat or even falling for decades, regardless of whether the economy has been adding or subtracting jobs.”

According to a Reuters report this month, “Wages posted their biggest decline in at least eight years in a sign the tightening labor market has yet to give much of a boost to workers.” This comes at a time when most working households are experiencing a rise in inflation that is driving costs of living even higher.

The current focus on a return to wealth-making opportunities overlooks real, ongoing injury to those without resources in reserve. The strangulated realities of middle and lower class economics have created some surprising casualties of the recession. Here’s a look at who's been left behind:

Men are hurting more than women. For men in the prime of their working lives (ages 25-54), more than one in six don’t have a job. And when it was time to make cuts during the recession, men were the primary targets. In fact, the male-to-female job loss ratio was2.6 to 1.

Millennials have been left out in the cold. As a whole, this demographic (born between 1982 and 2000) is suffering the most. More than 40 percent of unemployed workers are millennials, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data by Georgetown University Center of Education and the Workforce. That’s compared to 37 percent for Generation X and 23 percent for baby boomers.

The young are being beaten out by the old. Fresh faces are not what employers want. They’re going for experienced employees “on sale” in a glutted market. As baby boomers push off retirement or take part-time and lower-paying jobs to supplement their retirements, pressure is applied to the younger generations that would normally move into those positions. From 2007 to 2013, baby boomers experienced a 9 percent increase in jobs.

Those without specialized training are in trouble. With globalization and technology impacting every facet of the economy, there just aren’t enough low-skilled jobs for everyone who wants or needs one. Not surprisingly, as you move up the spectrum from no education to some education to advanced education, the unemployment rate decreases as skills increase. And the pay gap between graduates and those without degrees is getting larger. 

In a story arguing that college is worth the investment, The New York Times recently reported: “Americans with four-year college degrees made 98 percent more an hour on average in 2013 than people without a degree. That’s up from 89 percent five years earlier, 85 percent a decade earlier and 64 percent in the early 1980s.”

Those with degrees may not need them for the jobs they have. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that 44 percent of recent graduates with a B.A. or higher were in jobs that did not technically require a degree.  While more education is critical in this new economy, it must be the right education in the right fields.

Minorities face tough odds. Looking at a New York Times report on Bureau of Labor Statistics, researchers found that black Americans (at 13.1 percent unemployed) were twice as likely to be unemployed as whites (at 6.5). Meanwhile 9.1 percent of Hispanics face unemployment.  The underemployment rate (those people in jobs for which they are overqualified) for black Americans was 20.5 percent with Hispanics at 18.4 percent and white Americans at 11.8.

One can hope that meaningful job creation will supply the growing demand for meaningful full-time employment. But hope is not a strategy. It’s time to get creative.

Having the right skills, education and determination will be critical for those who want to take advantage of the new growth sectors in technology-centric fields. 

As someone who writes, speaks and consults with job creators and job seekers, I can tell you that a successful career will be achieved more by personal effort and hard work than by anything Washington or Wall Street does. Many of the jobs that will be created in the growth segments of our economy over the next two decades don’t exist today. The key is to be educationally and technically skilled and ready for the new tech jobs as they are created. 

Those who need a starting point to re-engineer their career or obtain a new job should begin by taking stock of themselves in the New Year, evaluating the combination of abilities and experiences that make them unique. Tools like Career Direct from Crown or other skills assessment tests can help.

Next, focus on education and skill building. Many experts agree the “shelf life” of a college education today is about three years, meaning continued education and skill advancement are required to remain relevant. On-line education in programs like Venture Academy is both innovative and cost effective, as are a number of on-line educational programs.

It’s never too late to take a leap of faith, believing in the potential you were born to realize. But success will not be accidental. Start the New Year by making a plan for a job search that results in a career, and not just a paycheck.

Robert Dickie III is president of Crown, a non-profit dedicated to helping people create long term plans for personal financial, career, and business success. He is the author of the newly release book, "THE LEAP - Launching your Full-Time Career in Our Part-Time Economy." (Moody Publishers January 6, 2015). Follow him on Twitter@RobertDickie.