Americans need jobs now, and if the economy on its own is incapable of putting people back to work — which appears to be the case — then the government needs to step in with aggressive job-creation efforts.
Nearly one in four American families has suffered a job loss over the past year, according to a survey released by the Economic Policy Institute. Nearly 1 in 10 Americans is officially unemployed, and the real-world jobless rate is worse.
We’re running on a treadmill that is carrying us backward. Something approaching 10 million new jobs would have to be created just to get back to where we were when the recession began in December 2007. There is nothing currently in the works to jump-start job creation on that scale.
We seem to be waiting for some mythical rebound to come rolling in, magically equipped with robust job creation, a long-term bull market and paradise regained for consumers.
It ain’t happening.
While the data mavens were talking about green shoots in September, employers in the real world were letting another 263,000 of their workers go, bringing the jobless rate to 9.8 percent, the highest in more than a quarter of a century. It would have been higher still but 571,000 people dropped out of the labor market. They’re jobless but not counted as unemployed. The number of people officially unemployed — 15.1 million — is, as The Wall Street Journal noted, greater than the population of 46 of the 50 states.
The Obama administration seems hamstrung by the unemployment crisis. No big ideas have emerged. No dramatically creative initiatives. While devoting enormous amounts of energy to health care, and trying now to decide what to do about Afghanistan, the president has not even conveyed the sense of urgency that the crisis in employment warrants.
If that does not change, these staggering levels of joblessness have the potential to cripple not just the well-being of millions of American families, but any real prospects for sustained economic recovery and the political prospects of the president as well. An unemployed electorate is an unhappy electorate.
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