Official figures mask
scale of joblessness
BY BEN JOYCE
Workers without a full-time job now make up one-fifth of the workforce in five U.S. states, according to a New York Times analysis of state-by-state unemployment data. Following the June Labor Department report on unemployment, several capitalist dailies have been pointing out that official unemployment figures hide the real level of joblessness.
The Economy Is Even Worse Than You Think was the headline of a feature article by Mortimer Zuckerman that appeared in the July 14 Wall Street Journal. Zuckerman is a member of the advisory board to JP Morgan.
In addition, a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute points out that unemployment rates are growing faster for Black and Hispanic workers, who historically have faced much higher joblessness than workers who are white.
The official unemployment rate in the United States is at 9.5 percent as of the end of June. However these statistics, as calculated by the federal government, do not reflect a substantial number of workers who need jobs.
A large section of workers without full-time work is hidden from official calculations by excluding those who are forced to work part time. A July 15 Times article points out that if part-time workers that want full-time jobs were included in official statistics, they would make up about one-third of the unemployed. On average, workers in this category work three days per week.
In his Wall Street Journal article Zuckerman cites 10 reasons the economy is in more trouble than the 9.5 percent unemployment rate indicates. Among statistics cited by numerous economistsaverage monthly job losses of around half a million, increasing unpaid leaves or furloughs, more and more workers in part-time jobsZuckerman adds that the average length of unemployment, now nearly 25 weeks, is higher than its been since the government began tracking the data in 1948.
In the 1960s the Kennedy administration reconfigured the way the unemployment rate is determined by creating a new statistical category called discouraged workersthose who have been unable to find work for so long that they have stopped lookingwho are no longer counted as unemployed. In 1994 the Clinton administration then took this category and removed it from government statistics altogether, no longer counting them as part of the workforce.
These workers, along with the marginally attached who the government doesnt count claiming they havent looked for work for the past month, and those officially counted brings the number of unemployed and underemployed to nearly 26 million workers, or 16.5 percent of the workforce.
Even workers who do have a full-time job face fewer and fewer hours as the capitalist depression deepens. The average workweek is now down to 33 hoursthe lowest level since the U.S. Department of Labor began recording this figure in 1964.
Rising unemployment has a disproportionately bigger impact on oppressed nationalities. A July 15 brief by the Economic Policy Institute reports that joblessness has risen much more among Blacks and Hispanics in the past 18 months than it has among whites.
For decades unemployment among workers who are Black has been around double that of workers who are white. At the end of 2007 official rates were 4 percent for whites and 8.7 percent for Blacks. This trend has continued as the capitalist economic crisis deepens. In the past year and a half the unemployment rate for whites grew by 2.8 percent while it jumped 4.3 percent for Blacks. Hispanics had the highest rise in unemployment, jumping by 4.8 percent.
The report notes that the highest Black to white unemployment ratio was in Louisiana, where Blacks were three times as likely to be unemployed as whites. In Alabama, New York, Mississippi, and Texas, Blacks were more than twice as likely to be unemployed as whites.
Capitalisms deepening depression
Workers need to
take political power
New York socialists hit campaign trail
Dan Fein (right), Socialist Workers candidate for mayor of New York, campaigns at Harlem Book Fair July 18. Previous week 15,500 people signed petitions to place Fein, along with Maura DeLuca for public advocate and Tom Baumann for Manhattan borough president, on ballot.
BY BRIAN WILLIAMS
NEW YORKA spirited campaign rally here July 16, attended by more than 60 people, celebrated the completion of the petitioning effort to place the Socialist Workers Partys candidates on the ballot in the fall election.
Over nine days campaigners collected more than 15,500 signatures on petitions for the partys citywide candidates, Dan Fein for mayor and Maura DeLuca for public advocate, and more than 8,000 for Tom Baumann, running as the partys candidate for Manhattan borough president. This is more than double the legal requirement.
Fein and DeLuca are union sewing-machine operators and Baumann is a student at Hunter College. On that campus about 1,600 students, campus workers, and some faculty signed to put the socialists on the ballot. Petitioners received a tremendous response, said Norton Sandler, SWP national campaign director, who chaired the meeting.
City officials describe the public advocate as a go-between between the people and the government, noted DeLuca, but New York City, like the entire country, is class-divided. When elected public advocate, I will fight for my class and put forward a program pointing to the need for the working class to take political power out of the hands of the countrys wealthy capitalist rulers.
Pointing to rising unemployment figures, with the official nationwide rate now at 9.5 percent and actual numbers much higher, DeLuca said that unemployment insurancefor those able to get itprovides unlivable wages for most working people.
In response to depression conditions, my campaign calls for guaranteed unemployment compensation at union scale for all workers until they find a job, and for a federally funded crash public works program to put millions to work at union scale to build schools, hospitals, roads, and public transportation, she said.
The average workweek is now only 33 hours as the bosses curtail production and push speedup. At the shop where I work, the boss said youll be working four days a week but you have to put out five days work, said DeLuca.
She pointed to the victory won by workers at the Stella Doro cookie factory in the Bronx. Workers there rejected steep concessions, and struck for 11 months with not one of the workers crossing the picket line. The unionists in early July won a National Labor Relations Board ruling putting them back to work with back pay. Our campaign has given solidarity to this fight from day one, she stated. With the company threatening to close the plant in October, the fight goes on, she added.
The spreading war in Afghanistan and Pakistan is part of the same war Washington has been waging in Iraq, stated Fein. President Barack Obama is escalating what his predecessor George Bush put into motion.
The Socialist Workers campaign is 100 percent opposed to all U.S. wars, Fein said. We demand the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
Womans right to choose abortion
Fein spoke about the importance of defending a womans right to choose abortion, a precondition for womens equality. In a speech at Notre Dame University in May, Obama called for finding common ground with antiabortion forces to reduce the number of women seeking abortions. There is no common ground, emphasized Fein. For us to find common ground is to give up a womans right to choose abortion.
Rents are on the rise and so is homelessness, the socialist mayoral candidate noted. Housing should not be a commodity but a human right. The Socialist Workers campaign demands nationalization of the land and housing stock. This will halt evictions by landlords and foreclosures of farmers land, he said.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is on the ballot for reelection under the Republican and Independent Party lines. He is also petitioning for a third spot for his newly created Jobs and Education Party. The mayor takes credit for an increase in reading and math scores since he took control of the school system eight years ago. The schools are not institutions of learning, however, but of social control, of instilling obedience to the bosses at ones current or future jobs, said Fein.
To be meaningful, education has to create the possibility for society as a whole to advance, instead of reinforcing the exploitation of the majority by the few. Until then, the only place you can find meaningful education is through political education within the workers movement, stated Fein.
In a message to the meeting, Young Socialists leader Baumann hailed the successes of the petitioning effort. He is currently on a fact-finding visit to New Zealand and Australia to talk with workers and young people there. Learning about the struggle of working people in the Pacific will help strengthen the SWP campaign, he wrote.
The socialists petitions will be filed with the New York City Board of Elections on August 11, the first day that candidates can file. Over the next three-and-a-half months until the election, they will be aggressively campaigning with the working-class alternative, said Fein.