By BOB HERBERT
Published: August 9, 2010
The employment situation in the United States is much worse than even the dismal numbers from last week’s jobless report would indicate. The nation is facing a full-blown employment crisis and policy makers are not responding with anything like the sense of urgency that is needed.
The employment data for July, released by the government on Friday, showed that private employers added just 71,000 jobs during the month and that the unemployment rate remained flat at 9.5 percent. But as bad as those numbers were, if you look beyond them you’ll see a horror show.
Government workers were walking the plank from coast to coast. About 143,000 temporary Census workers were let go, and another 48,000 government employees at the budget-strapped state and local levels lost their jobs. But the worst news, with the most ominous long-term implications, was that the reason the unemployment rate was not higher was because 181,000 workers left the labor force.
With many of them beaten down by the worst jobs situation since the Great Depression, they just stopped looking for work. And given the Alice-in-Wonderland way in which we compile our official jobless statistics, they are no longer counted as unemployed.
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So, how many of you are in the 30 million without any or adequate work? What are your thoughts about this? Myself, I'm employed and have been for a year, but I'm convinced it's by a sheer fucking miracle. And regardless of our job status, what do we predict for the long-term situation of the unemployed and the poor in general? I rarely like the NYT's commentary on the economy since it's such a bastion of neoliberalism, but while this columnist doesn't advocate for genuine class consciousness among the people getting most fucked over by the situation he describes, I personally agree that if things continue this way for much longer, the US is going to be permanently destabilized. This could prove great for retooling the system in a positive way, but it could also provide opportunities for ultra-reactionary elements to seize control. I don't see this as a ~fall of Rome~ scenario per se, because I don't find it realistic to speculate about the real timeline of US global dominance, but I see problems like this as symptoms of a scenario that could lead to Something Really Fucking Big. Should we be hopeful, scared, or both?