Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hello? Anyone notice there's a JOBS CRISIS??

Expect to hear the word "debt ceiling" a lot this week. That is, if you haven't tuned out the crap coming out of Washington.

Don't expect to hear the word you should be hearing. That would be "jobs."

Sadly, our elected representatives seem more interested in taking an ax to protections for working people than they are in creating jobs and strengthening the economy. Employment numbers remain abysmal month after month -- but is anyone paying attention? Tax cuts for millionaires don't create jobs -- but is anyone paying attention? Wages have stagnated for the past decade -- but is anyone paying attention?

That's the question David Leonhardt asks in Thursday's New York Times:
The latest economic numbers have not been good. Jobless claims rose last week, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Another report showed that economic growth at the start of the year was no faster than the Commerce Department initially reported — “a real surprise,” said Ian Shepherdson of High Frequency Economics....
An economy that is growing this slowly will not add jobs quickly. For the next couple of months, employment growth could slow from about 230,000 recently to something like 150,000 jobs a month, only slightly faster than normal population growth. That is certainly not fast enough to make a big dent in the still huge number of unemployed people.
Are any policy makers paying attention?
Here's another question: Is anyone paying attention to what deficit reduction -- aka austerity -- is doing in Europe? IT ISN'T WORKING.  In fact, it's failing miserably. As the Guardian notes, Ireland, Greece and Portugal, 
...face years of austerity, yet wage cuts, job losses and crumbling public services will not extricate them from financial crisis. In fact, by driving their economies into an ever deeper slump, it may even make things worse. The pain could just bring more pain.
Economist Paul Krugman argues there are things we can do to create jobs. Put people to work on infrastructure. Modify loans for troubled homeowners. Spur inflation.

But policy makers have adopted a position of learned helplessness, he writes: the more they fail to do anything about the jobs crisis, the more they convince themselves that there's nothing they can do. And, he rightfully concludes,
And those of us who know better should be doing all we can to break that vicious circle.