We have good news on this Labor Day America! Our long economic nightmare is over.
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At least that’s what we’re being told by top economic officials, Wall Street bankers, and others in the know. To confirm that the American economy is now on the right track, President Obama has even reappointed Ben Bernanke to another term as honcho of the Federal Reserve. In financial circles, Ben is being hailed as “a monumental figure” for engineering the multitrillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street giants. Those giants are now claiming to be profitable again, and stock prices of those giants have begun to tick upward, so there’s joy at the top, and those who dwell there have blessed Bernanke.
However, if you’re among the vast majority of folks who do not dwell at the top, you probably don’t measure economic recovery by Wall Street profit levels. Job numbers might be more important to you. If so, you’re not likely to want to carve Bernanke’s “monumental” likeness into Mount Rushmore.
Since the current economic dive began 20 months ago, America has lost nearly seven million jobs. There are fewer jobs now than in 2000, even though about 12 million more workers have come into the labor force since then. The official jobless rate is nearing 10 percent.
Last month, the media touted a slight drop in the number of out-of-work Americans, but guess what? This “good” news was not the result of more people finding work, but the result of 450,000 Americans who became so discouraged in July by their fruitless search for jobs that they quit looking. In statistical la-la land, if you stop looking, you’re no longer counted as unemployed.
If you add up the jobless, the discouraged, and the underemployed, 30 million Americans – 19 percent of us – cannot find the work we need. This is our economy’s true crisis, and there can be no happy Labor Day until we deal with it.