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“Stock Market Soars,” exulted a typical headline in early May, when the Dow Jones Average topped 15,000.
But this index of Wall Street wealth gives a false picture of our nation’s true economic health. Yes, the privileged few are doing extremely well. But the workaday many are struggling – and falling further and further behind as the jobs market sinks steadily from mere recession down into depression.
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The monthly unemployment reports don’t tell the depths of misery out here in the real world, beyond the view of Wall Street and Washington elites. For example, President Obama hailed the news that unemployment dipped to 7.5 percent in April. Unstated, though, was the stark reality that this good-news dip was not due to a jump in job offerings, but to a bad-news labor market so weak and discouraging that Americans are dropping out of it or never entering it.
More than a third of our working-age population is no longer even in the job market, and only 58.6 percent of us are employed. Put the opposite way, 41 percent of the potential workforce is not working – about 102 million people. One more statistic, and it’s a chiller: More than one out of five American families report that, last year, not a single family member had a job.
Our people are trapped in a jobs crisis that is sucking the economic vitality out of our nation, but our leaders even refuse to acknowledge it. In fact, corporate chieftains deliberately exacerbate the crisis by hoarding trillions of dollars that ought to be rushed into job-creating expansions, and politicians add to the casualties by gleefully firing hundreds of thousands of teachers, firefighters, police, and other valuable public employees.
America’s middle class is burning to the ground, while Washington fiddles with nonsense and Wall Street feathers its own nest. It’s disgraceful.
“Stock market soars as labor market limps,” Austin American Statesman,” May 11, 2013.
“Should the United States Have 2.2 Million More Jobs?” www.brookings.edu, May 3, 2013.