Thursday, August 07, 2003

Despair of the Jobless

Good Bob Herbert column in the New York Times today about the desperate unemployment situation in George Bush's America.

First, things are much worse than the official numbers show:
The official jobless rate, now 6.2 percent, does not come close to reflecting how grim the employment situation really is. The official rate refers only to those actively seeking work. It does not count the "discouraged" workers, who have looked for jobs within the last 12 months but have given up because of the lack of offers. Then there are the involuntary part-timers, who would like full-time jobs but cannot find them. And there are people who have had to settle for jobs that pay significantly less than jobs they once held.

When you combine the unemployed and the underemployed, you are talking about a percentage of the work force that is in double digits. That's an awful lot of lost purchasing power for a society that needs broad-based wage growth among its consumers to remain economically viable.
And the Bush Administration? Message: I don't give a shit.
The simple truth is that the interests of the Bush administration's primary constituency, corporate America, do not coincide with the fundamental interests of workaday Americans. On the business side of this divide, increased profits are realized by showing the door to as many workers as possible, and squeezing the remainder to the bursting point. Productivity (based primarily on improvements in technology) is way up. Hiring, of course, is down. Part-time and temporary workers are in; full-time workers with benefits are out.

And then there's the ominous trend of sending higher-skilled jobs overseas to low-wage places like India and China, an upscale reprise of the sweatshop phenomenon that erased so many U.S. manufacturing jobs over the past quarter century.

Working Americans need jobs just to survive. But the Bush administration equates the national interest with corporate interests, and in that equation workers can only lose.
Glad the recession is over. Someone better let these people know.