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A Major Setback to the Campaign for Jobs

October 3, 2011
By Harry Kelber

It’s been nearly four years since we were being told that the economic recession was officially over; yet today, there are 14 million people who are still listed as unemployed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). (And we’re not counting the additional 12 million who are part-timers and temporary workers, and those who finally gave up looking for work in a bleak job market.)

Labor Leaders were virtually unanimous in praising President Obama’s $447 billion jobs bill, with some economists estimating that it would create as many as 2 to 3 million jobs by the end of 2013. But with Republicans strongly opposed, the Jobs Act has little chance of being approved by Congress, especially since there is no agreement as to who would pay for the $447 billion bill.

President Obama has been converted to the Republican view that cutting the federal deficit must be the top priority for the political parties. Without
prior consultation with congressional leaders or organized labor, Obama struck a deal with House Speaker John Boehner for about one trillion dollars in spending cuts, with the prospect that the SuperCongress will recommend another $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions by Nov. 23.

What this means is that hundreds, (maybe thousands) of projects, programs, even entire agencies, will be eliminated or sharply curtailed. We don’t know
which organizations are scheduled for the chopping block, but we’re fairly certain that Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are on the list of intended victims. And it’s questionable whether social agencies that serve the poor sick and elderly will remain unscathed. Obama has taken away the traditional cost-of-living benefits for retirees.

If you are working for one of the enterprises that are targeted for spending cuts, you may end up within the ranks of those millions who are desperately
looking for work. Private Industry Is in No Rush to Hire New Employees What about private industry? Can we rely on Corporate America to supply us
with urgently needed jobs? Very few companies are in a rush to hire new employees or rehire former ones. They’ve trained their employees to work harder and longer, often for less pay. If they need more help, they hire temporary workers.

In August 2011, the government reported no job growth, but many companies were still increasing their profit margins. It seems strange that in an era
of economic recovery, there would be many companies who are laying off workers. For example, in August 2011, a little more than a month ago, 1,587 employers laid off a total of 165,547 workers. They say they’ll hire when conditions get better, but they are making conditions worse.

The American people are in a deep economic hole that is getting deeper as new obstacles arise to complicate their jobs campaign. The U.S. is currently
6.9 million jobs below where it was when the recession started, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). And where are we going to find jobs for
the hundreds of thousands of people who enter the nation’s labor force each year? What do we do with the 6 million people who have been unemployed for
27 weeks or more?

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