Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Chart That Ought To Scare The Crap Out of Politicians... But Doesn't.

This was actually last week on Sullivan's blog, but there was a distraction or three going on...

This chart points to how long unemployed people are actually staying unemployed.
It shows that recently unemployed people have about double the chances of relocating a new job to get back into the grand economic circle of life.  But the second you get over that 27 weeks or more of unemployed... well, you're screwed.  That, by the by, is where the real problems of our current unemployment crisis is...

There's a couple of reasons for this:
  • Those long-term unemployed are from sectors of the economy - construction, public works, finance, manufacturing - that have lost jobs that are NOT coming back any time soon.  The housing and foreclosure crisis has put a crimp on new housing and housing repairs, for example.  Manufacturing jobs are bleeding to overseas markets with cheaper non-union labor.  Public sector jobs - state and county and city - have been hit hard with massive deficits forcing spending cuts.  The quick rehiring of those out of work under 26 weeks involve industries that are fluctuating but not losing job openings that can be refilled.
  • The other reason is psychological on the part of HR departments.  They seem reluctant to hire anyone who's been out of service for so long, as though there's a stench of failure all about a candidate who's been out of luck for 27 weeks or more.

The reason the long-term unemployed is a major problem for our government and our economy is that they will sooner rather than later become a burden on society in the worst way.  Sooner or later they drop out of the job-hunting and unemployment benefits system.  Unemployment really isn't at 9.8 percent: that's just the people still reporting for benefits.  REAL Unemployment, including the ones who've given up on benefits or no longer able to garner them (known as the 99ers for the ninty-nine weeks (and counting) they've been out of work), is actually past 10.4 percent (and might even be worse than that).  But what happens when the unemployment benefits end or the unemployed move on?  They move on over to Food Stamps, or some other form of welfare.  The burden merely shifts to another public sector that's facing cutbacks in the wake of statewide and national deficits.  Worse, they become a burden to family members or friends who may be employed (or retired living on benefits themselves) but who are incapable of paying for the needs of their out-of-work relative/friend.

Look.  Having one-tenth of your employable population out of work is NEVER good.  But there's little sign that the federal government is going to do anything about it, which sucks.  And the conservatives' solution - tax cuts that DON'T REALLY go to job creation or wage improvements - isn't going to work (all those tax cuts after 2001... and this is the shape of our job market today.  Buy a clue, Republicans: TAX CUTS DON'T WORK.  Grrrr.)

  • We need laws in place to force HR departments to look at hiring the long-term unemployed first.  We're the ones at greater risk.
  • We need laws in place to keep international corporations from shipping OUR jobs elsewhere.  You wanna get our tax breaks?  Give some breaks to the people who live here!
  • We need a works program similar to the ones that FDR had back in the 1930s that helped us climb out of the Great Depression.  Nothing huge like the CCC, but at least something to get people back to work and stimulating the economy with their efforts and their spending.  I honestly don't get why there's this huge hate on for Keynesian policies of the 1930s that worked (nations like Japan that quickly adopted Keynesian economic models were the ones that survived the global economic meltdown).  I know that Keynesianism was choking on itself by the 1970s, but that was when our government and economy could operate without it... but today, dammit...

So an open call to all unemployed persons across the nation.  To all my fellow 99ers, this is pretty much the only solution left to us.  Run for office.  Run at the county level, state level, federal level, whatever it takes.  Go to your party if you've registered with one and sign up to run for any openings in the coming election cycle.  Trust me, you gotta start looking into the paperwork on that stuff before it gets too late... and the deadlines come up on the calendar faster than you realize.

Run for office, unemployed people.  We need more elected officials who have a damn good idea just how bad the job market is out here in the Real World.

Wartenberg in 2012.  I Need The Work.

(this has been edited for some grammar errors and to highlight additional thoughts)

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