View Full Version : BUSH: The Unrecognizable Recovery

9th March 04, 10:06 AM
by Bob Herbert
New York Times
March 8, 2004

The Bush crowd couldn't have been more pleased with the timing of the Martha Stewart verdict on Friday afternoon.

The big news heading into the weekend was almost guaranteed to be the awful jobs report released by the Labor Department Friday morning. The White House needed a world-class distraction and the Stewart jury, eager to wrap things up before the weekend, obliged. It strolled in, as if on cue, with a verdict of guilty on all counts. Distractions don't get much bigger.

The Labor Department report was as grim as faces on a bread line. Despite all the president's promises, the economy added just 21,000 jobs last month. No jobs were added by the private sector. The 21,000 additional jobs were all government hires.

The report also showed that job growth in December and January was worse than previously believed. The January tally was revised from 112,000 to 97,000. The December count dropped from 16,000 to a pathetic 8,000.

A number of demographic groups are getting absolutely hammered. A new study by Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, found historic lows in the reported labor force participation of 16- to 19-year-olds. According to the study, "The estimated 36.8 percent employment rate for the nation's teens was the lowest ever recorded since 1948."

A more ominous finding was that over the past three calendar years the number of people aged 16 to 24 who are both out of work and out of school increased from 4.8 million to 5.6 million, with males accounting for the bulk of the increase.

The Economic Policy Institute and the National Employment Law Project, in a joint analysis of newly released data, reported a disturbing increase in long-term joblessness. Unemployment lasting half a year or longer grew to 22.1 percent of all unemployment in 2003. That was an increase from 18.3 percent in 2002, and the highest rate since 1983.

Among those having a particularly hard time finding work, according to the report, are job seekers with college degrees and people 45 and older.

"The new data," said Sylvia Allegretto, one of the authors of the report, "show us an economy that is just not generating enough high-quality jobs to get highly educated and highly experienced workers back to work."

The nation is in an employment crisis and the end is not in sight. The Bush administration has no plan, other than a continued ludicrous reliance on additional tax cuts. The White House continued to say on Friday that making the president's tax cuts permanent would be an important step toward solving the employment problem.

What is happening in some sectors of the black community is catastrophic. The Community Service Society studied employment conditions among black men in New York City. Using the employment-population ratio, which is the proportion of the working-age population with a job, it found - incredibly - that nearly one of every two black men between the ages of 16 and 64 was not working last year.

In the current environment, even apparent good news can have its troubling aspects. An article in The Wall Street Journal a couple weeks ago indicated that Latino workers have been doing well, taking a "disproportionate share" of new jobs, especially in the construction and service sectors, since the economy began its recovery.

The article referred to a demand for young, male Latino workers.

It then went on to say: "Typical of them is Jorge Alberto, a 22-year-old Guatemalan, who doesn't speak English, didn't complete high school and had never held a job - until he slipped across the border into California from Mexico last year. In Los Angeles, `I found a job almost immediately,' he says, pushing a cart through the muddy lot where he and five other Hispanic men are laying the foundation for a house."

Workers are facing these bleak employment conditions in a so-called recovery. What happens if we slip into another recession?

A favorite metaphor associated with an expanding U.S. economy is "A rising tide lifts all boats."

Right now, a lot of the boats have leaks, and they are taking on water fast.

10th March 04, 03:14 PM
bumping up.