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Elections, Politics

Deadbeat summer

Posted: July 6, 2012 at 5:13 pm   /   by


Once again, the economy is stalled out in the blistering 110-degree heat, leaving millions of Americans stranded on the side of the road with no money and no easy way out.  Around January, it seemed like things might finally be taking off again.  But as soon as it got warm out that thing started sounding funny, and once it got stuck in a bit of traffic there was no way of making it go again.  It seems like this happens every year…

So here we are, it’s July, and the unemployment rate is 8.2%.  What else is new?

Not much.  We’re still stuck in the same crappy economy we’ve been in for well over three years now, waiting for someone to come give us a ride.

  • The unemployment level has now been above 8% for 41 consecutive months.  In the 60 previous years, it only exceeded that in a total of 39 months.
  • From December through February, private companies added an average of 252,000 workers a month.  But last month, only 80,000 were created.  Consider the rally over.  It’s back to slow going on the I-10.
  • That figure is not enough to keep up with population growth, which is probably why the U-6 “real unemployment” figure inched up to 14.9%.
  • Last month 85,000 workers left the workforce entirely to enroll in the Social Security Disability Insurance program, according to the Social Security Administration.  Note that this is a larger number than the number of jobs created.
  • The disability ranks have outpaced job growth throughout President Obama’s economic recovery. While the economy has created 2.6 million jobs since June 2009, fully 3.1 million workers signed up for disability benefits.
  • The “labor force participation rate” — the number of people who have jobs or actively looking for one compared with the entire working-age population — is now 63.8%, down from 65.7% in June 2009. This participation rate is lower than it’s been in 30 years. In previous recoveries, the labor participation rate has almost always risen, not fallen.
  • The number of long-term unemployed — those out of work 27 weeks or more — is still 5.4 million — almost one million higher than when the recovery began three years ago, and almost twice the level it ever reached prior to Obama’s recovery.
  • The number of people with jobs is still nearly 5 million below its pre-recession peak.
  • And of course, overall, 12.7 million Americans remain officially unemployed.
Next time you’re out driving around and the thermometer on your car is giving a reading of 108… 110… 112 degrees, count the number of people out spinning signs on the sidewalk or stuck on the side of the freeway in beat up old cars.  Would they be there if the unemployment rate were 5 or 6%?  Maybe not.
PHOTO CREDIT:  Road_to_nowhere.JPG

Hannah Thoreson

Hannah Thoreson is a science and technology writer based in northern Virginia. She earned a physics degree from Arizona State University in 2012 and has been causing trouble ever since.

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Deadbeat summer