The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 75/No. 25      July 11, 2011

(lead article)
Long-term joblessness
at record-high levels
Gov’t ‘stimulus’ only postpones bigger crises
In earlier recessions of past 65 years it took some six months for employment to return to prior levels. Since 1990 it has taken longer and longer.

Job losses in the United States since 2001 are the worst of any 10-year period since the 1890s. One-third of those unemployed have been out of work for more than a year—almost half for more than six months, higher than any time in the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Employment in the United States is still 5 percent below its level more than three years ago, making this far and away the most sluggish jobs “recovery” of any capitalist recession since the end of World War II (see chart).

The wildly understated unemployment rate the government wants the media to focus on is itself high, at more than 9 percent.

Adding in those who’ve been out of work for so long they’ve stopped bothering to look for the time being—plus those working part-time who want a full-time job—more than 15 percent of the labor force is jobless, by the figures of the bosses’ government itself.

And if you count the way Washington used to before 1994—when the Clinton White House rigged Labor Department jobs statistics to try to pretty them up—then the jobless rate is almost 25 percent!

What’s more, nothing the U.S. government has done to “stimulate the economy” has reversed the capitalist crisis or its devastating impact on tens of millions of working people.

According to the latest official report, industrial production is stuck at 93 percent of its 2007 level, and the capitalists’ “utilization” of existing plant and equipment is a bit above 75 percent—nearly 4 percentage points below its average for the previous four decades.

Instead of fueling expanded production and hiring, Washington’s massive increase in the money supply—so-called quantitative easing—has simply swelled bank reserves and done nothing to reverse the tendency of capitalists to pile up huge amounts of cash. By the third quarter of 2010 cash-hoarding by U.S. companies hit a record $1.9 trillion, up from an already high $1.5 trillion in 2007.

Even the spending on machinery and equipment that is taking place—itself inflated by government subsidies—is not being used to expand productive capacity, output, and hiring.

Instead, big capitalists are buying so-called labor-saving equipment and software. Far from “saving” any labor for working people, however, this cost-cutting by the bosses leads to longer hours for fewer workers, intensified speedup, and more and worse injuries on the job.

“I want to have as few people touching our products as possible,” Dan Mishek, managing director of Vista Technologies in Vadnais Heights, Minnesota, told the New York Times recently. “You don’t have to train machines.”

In this “jobless” economic recovery the number of workers in manufacturing has declined by more than 32 percent since January 2000. More than 446,000 jobs in state and municipal governments have been cut since September 2008.

Neither Obama nor other Democratic or Republican politicians have any jobs program. As part of the 2009 Recovery Act, the president promised funds for construction and infrastructure projects to put millions to work.

“Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected,” Obama joked June 13 to the guffaws of the capitalists, top-level managers, and well-heeled professionals on his Jobs and Competitiveness Council, admitting how few jobs have been created.  
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