Jobs Report obscures the true scale of the unemployment problem

While the headline preaches growth the reality is the sharp decline in the unemployment rate was due mostly to the 806,000 who left the labor force and were

therefore not counted as unemployed – statistically they aren’t counted.

It still confounds me that few people notice or comment on the numbers very few ever report on:  [Table 1. Job openings levels and rates by industry and region, seasonally adjusted].  The number of unfilled jobs at month end climbed again hitting 4.1M

But sometimes the true scale of the unemployment problem can get lost in the abstract manner in which we collectively discuss the issue. We get detached from the human tragedy by impersonal preoccupation with statistics, percentages, estimates or forecasts.  Did you know that just 28 million unemployed people – roughly ¼ of those without a job – is the equivalent to every man, woman and child living in the 7 largest cities in America:  New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and San Antonio.

That the ‘Great Recession’ has been an economic catastrophe for jobless and underemployed American workers and their families is an understatement.  Lost and Confused SignpostJoblessness not only leaves deep scars on people — financially and psychologically — but also has enduring effects on families, communities and society.  Beyond the personal suffering, the despair of the unemployed undermines their trust of employers, the economy and government.

America’s prospects are dimming:

•             Between 2001 and 2011, the trade deficit with China eliminated or displaced more than 2.7 million U.S. jobs, over 2.1 million of which (76.9 percent) were in manufacturing.  These lost manufacturing jobs account for more than half of all U.S. manufacturing jobs lost or displaced between 2001 and 2011.

•             47+ million Americans are on food stamps   (Note: In the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps.  Today one out of every 6.5 is on food stamps.  In 2011 food stamps cost was $76 billion).

Having 47.7 million people living below the poverty line is equal to every man, woman and child living in the 60 largest cities in America.

Detroit – once the Crown Jewel of America’s manufacturing industry – has long-term debt estimated to be upwards of $20 billion.    Investors say the bankruptcy will make it more difficult for cities and towns everywhere to raise the money they need to build bridges, schools and other infrastructure.

That is the true cost of having nearly 50% of working age Americans on the sidelines.

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