Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chronic Unemployment Highest Since The Great Depression- No Jobs Strategy In Sight

I recall the President saying (when he was candidate Obama) something to the effect that when you get inside the bubble of Washington... you become one of them - meaning a politician out of touch with what is happening on the ground, especially in middle America. It is becoming more clear to me that Obama may be in the process of becoming 'one of them'.

CBS reported this week that chronic unemployment is at its highest since the Great Depression... and even worse than the Depression era on a percentage basis.
About 6.2 million Americans, 45.1 percent of all unemployed workers in this country, have been jobless for more than six months - a higher percentage than during the Great Depression.

The bigger the gap on someone's resume, the more questions employers have.

"(Employers) think: 'Oh, well, there must be something really wrong with them because they haven't gotten a job in 6 months, a year, 2 years.' But that's not necessarily the case," said Marjorie Gardner-Cruse with the Hollywood Worksource Center....

Here's another problem: more than 1 million of the long-term unemployed have run out of unemployment benefits, leaving them without the money to get new training, buy new clothes, or even get to job interviews.

In addition to the low job numbers, it was also reported this month that worker's share of national income has also dropped considerably over the last decade. All confirming what many working folks already know because we can feel it. When you are a millionaire and live in a cocoon in Washington, you can't feel it. You can see it, but it doesn't mean that you can feel it...and have real empathy for working people.

I can definitely feel it everyday. The company I work for lost its contract to provide services last month.... technically leaving me in limbo. Luckily, I was retained by the new service provider who saw my worth. But the work environment is worse now than ever.... so my job search has continued as if I were unemployed. I have been under-employed for several years now (a category that isn't included in national stats). Sometimes under-employment can be just as bad as having no work at all.

I know a major reason for my unsuccessful job search is because I am competing with a much larger number of job applicants than normal. There will always be someone with a flashier resume, someone who graduated from a school with a bigger 'brand', and someone with more extensive experience, even for the entry level jobs that I am seeking in public service. So even though I am not unemployed myself... I am still affected by the job market. As a result of my under-employment, my quality of life is just about zero. It is amazing that I have not gone completely nuts and killed myself at this point. A lot of people in my position either snap, kill themselves, or turn to alcohol...or worse.

Imagine working in the same miserable job that you hate getting up to go to for 17 years and only surviving (not living life). Being broke, especially as a man, robs you of quality of life. It means you can't date successfully, can't form the relationships you want...and of course that means you can't have a family of your own. This is why the condition of the economy is 'real' to me.

But despite the tough job market and high unemployment, we see the usual from Republicans. Working people and their labor rights are under attack everywhere from Wisconsin to Florida. Meanwhile corporate profits are as high as ever, with companies (seemingly on purpose) avoiding hiring to both increase profit margins to benefit those at the top, and to hurt the Presidents chances for re-election. CEO's and the Chamber of Commerce, would love to see a President Romney...or any nameless Republican, because it would mean less regulation, tax cuts, and more political support for the killing of labor rights... a dream scenario for corporations.

I am baffled by the response of the Obama Administration and Democrats in Congress. What is their strategy? Do they even have one? According to recent reports from Washington insiders... the Obama Administration "doesn't have the stomach for a new jobs bill". They don't seem all that concerned with creating jobs. Much of their economic focus seems to be on the deficit. Unbelievable.
I personally don't believe they have a clue. I predicted a couple of years ago that this is where we would be right now. I hate to say I told you so.... but I told you so.
I also laid out a general outline of what a jobs plan could look like.

The approach by Democrats makes no sense politically or practically. This is why i'm so baffled. Yes, the Republicans control the House. But dammit, the Democrats still control the Senate and the White House. It's as if they completely capitulated after the mid-terms. Progressive strategy is (and has been) non-existent. Even if they can't get a jobs bill passed.... making the effort would be smart politics for Democrats. President Obama should make a primetime address to the nation to spell out a jobs plan (worth anywhere from $50 to $150 billion - nothing compared with the nation building funds, the war money, and strategic bribe money that the U.S. has wasted over the past decade overseas). I'm referring to a more targeted jobs bill designed to spark the private sector, build the infrastructure of the future, and create sustainable employment in new industries.... a plan that could create millions of new jobs that will be around for a while. Democrats should put the plan on the table and force Republicans to vote against it (and they would). That is a winning strategy. That's a gift for Democrats...and it is a card that is available for them to use right now. Doing nothing... or taking cues from the Republicans about what the national debate should be (in this case... the debt/austerity), makes the Democrats look unbelievably weak and inept.

I know that a President has limited tools when it comes to dealing with the economy. However, a President can help to create more ideal conditions for economic growth. The real problem for the U.S. is 1). There are too many consumers and not enough producers; 2). There has been a fundamental shift in consumer behavior post 9/11 and again post 2008; and 3). The U.S. is being battered by globalization.... it is not adjusting well to it, largely because the Country failed to prepare for the changes in global labor and the shift in wealth. The U.S. is now paying dearly for not making the right kinds of adjustments to weather the impact of cheap labor, cheap goods, the rise of China (and the wider impact from Asia). The U.S. still isn't making the right adjustments, particularly in education. While students in other Countries receive a global education, American students still get outdated instruction from an insular perspective.

I don't see things getting much better anytime soon.

Great Commentary - "It's The Jobs, Stupid".

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