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The good news is that America’s economy continues to grow. The bad news is that most people’s personal economies continue to shrivel.
The June report on jobs glows with news that America’s unemployment rate has fallen to 9.5 percent. That’s the best we’ve had in a year. “We are headed in the right direction,” trumpeted President Obama.
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Well… not really. The apparent improvement is a statistical mirage. The number looks good only because 650,000 more Americans became so frustrated with their fruitless search for work last month that they quit looking. In the strange realm called StatWorld, you see, if you’re so discouraged that you give up, you are – abracadabra! – no longer counted as unemployed. There are now 1.2 million Americans in this statistical purgatory.
A couple of other realities also dimmed the glow of the June jobless numbers. One, for those who do have jobs, the average workweek shrank. It’s now down to only 34 hours – which means less income for “full time” working families. Adding to this decline was another drop in the average hourly wage paid to workers. Fewer hours, lower wages. That’s not what most people would call an economy “headed in the right direction.” Indeed, the strongest job growth in June came from the low-paying service sector, and nearly half of the 46,000 jobs added there are temporary positions.
Meanwhile, another implosion bomb is set to hit American workers. The public sector, which has been one bright spot for decent wages and benefits, is about to shed tens of thousands of teachers, firefighters, park employees, utility workers and others from state and local governments, sending our country in exactly the wrong direction.
Economists tell us that the recession is over. But get ready – depression looms.
“Streak of job gains ends in June,” Austin American Statesman, July 3, 2010.
“In implacable downturn, arsenal of recovery tools dwindling,” Austin American Statesman, July 3, 2010.
“The Third Depression,” The New York Times, June 28, 2010.
“Employment Situation Summary,” www.bls.gov, July 2, 2010.