Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The American Labor Market: Six years of "a long way to go"

(Image courtesy of Clker.com.)

This is an update of a blog post I did in 2013...

After the November 2009 jobs report, President Obama said, "We've still got a long way to go."

After the March 2010 jobs report, economist and presidential adviser Larry Summers said, "We've got a long way to go."

After the June 2011 jobs report, President Obama said, "We still have a long way to go."

After the May 2012 jobs report, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, "we have a long way to go."

After the January 2013 jobs report, Jill Schlesinger, Editor-at-Large for CBS MoneyWatch, said we "still have a long way to go."

After the June 2014 jobs report, Ryan Sweet, economist at Moody's Analytics, said "we still have a very long way to go."

Indeed, we do have a long way to go. Though the official unemployment rate is now 6.3%, we know that (1) the Labor Force Participation rate is historically low, (2) well over 20 million Americans wish they had a full-time job but can't find one, (3) many of the jobs that are being created are low-wage/no-future jobs, (4) the unemployment rates for younger adults are still in the double-digits, (5) the main unemployment statistic, 6.3%, does not include people who have given up hope and stopped looking for work (and thus misleads the public into thinking that the labor market is getting much better), and (6) most Americans believe--quite accurately--that the American Dream is dying. What Nobel-winning economist Dr. Joseph Stiglitz wrote in the Financial Times in 2012 is just as true today:

"America used to be thought of as the land of opportunity. Today, a child’s life chances are more dependent on the income of his or her parents than in Europe, or any other of the advanced industrial countries for which there are data. The US worked hard to create the American dream of opportunity. But today, that dream is a myth."   

The solution to all this foolishness, of course, is a new and stronger New Deal. But, as long as millions of Americans continue to give a free pass to white collar crime & the financial mischief on Wall Street, and choose instead to focus their anger on public school teachers, the homeless, and Medicaid for low-income Americans, we'll continue to see the American Dream die. A culture cannot thrive when the problems of corporate greed, corruption, and crime are interpreted by a significant percentage of the population as: "The unemployed are lazy!"

(In the video above, Bartlett Naylor, former Chief of Investigations for the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, explains the role of big banks in the Libor interest rate-rigging scandal. At 4:25, Naylor states: "I think what this scandal shows is that Wall Street is making this money, it's overtaking our economy, any way it can...and that includes cheating.")

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