No relief from jobs drought
The Kansas City Star
No doubt, the latest jobs figures are grim.
We have 8.1 percent of the population unemployed. But more startling is the figure released today that only 63.5 percent of the population is either working or looking for work, and that’s the lowest percentage in 31 years.
The low figure is driven by discouraged jobless Americans and younger people who are staying in school longer because the job market looks so bleak.
A statistic released a couple of days ago also fits into this picture. Worker productivity, defined as the amount of output per hour worked, increased at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in this year’s second quarter. That’s higher than expected.
Productivity sounds like a good thing, and on many levels it is. But one of the problems in this economic downturn is that companies and employers are squeezing that last pound of flesh out of their workers, sometimes more than is safe or healthy.
Result: People who have jobs are stressed to the max, but thankful to be employed. Too many people aren’t employed. And the number who have quit or postponed looking for a job presents its own kind of worry.
The jobs report will damage President Barack Obama in his re-election bid. The question is how much. I have a suspicion that most people will retreat to their respective corners. Republicans will accuse Obama of failing the American people. Democrats will note that Mitt Romney has proposed little in the way of specifics about how he would create jobs, and the policies he has mentioned might make matters worse.
The fact that we’ve been in a political season the last four years doesn’t help. Americans would think a lot more highly of their government if leaders of both parties could get together for the good of the country and come up with a bipartisan get-America-back-to-work plan. It would be nice to think that might happen after January, but nobody is counting on it.