Issues Economic and Social Justice America's Jobs Deficit, and Why It's Still More Important Than the Budget Deficit

JobsDeficitThe most significant aspect of January’s jobs report is political. The fact that America’s labor market continues to improve is good news for the White House. But as a practical matter the improvement is less significant for the American work force.

President Obama’s only chance for rebutting Republican claims that he’s responsible for a bad economy is to point to a positive trend. Voters respond to economic trends as much as they respond to absolute levels of economic activity. Under ordinary circumstances January’s unemployment rate of 8.3 percent would be terrible. But compared to September’s 9.1 percent, it looks quite good. And the trend line – 9 percent in October, 8.6 percent in November, 8.5 percent in December, and now 8.3 percent – is enough to make Democrats gleeful.

But the U.S. labor market is far from healthy. America’s job deficit is still mammoth. Our working-age population has grown by nearly 10 million since the recession officially began in December 2007 but many of these people never entered the workforce. Millions of others are still too discouraged to look for work.

The most direct way of measuring the jobs deficit is to look at the share of the working-age population in jobs. Before the recession, 63.3 percent of working-age Americans had jobs. That employment-to-population ratio reached a low last summer of 58.2 percent. Now it’s 58.5 percent. That’s better than it was, but not by much. The trend line here isn’t quite as encouraging.

Given how many people have lost their jobs and how much larger the total working-age population is now, we’ve got a long road ahead. At January’s rate of job gains – 243,000 – the nation wouldn’t return to full employment for another seven years.

When they’re not blaming Obama for a bad economy, Republicans are decrying the federal budget deficit and demanding more cuts. But America’s jobs deficit continues to be a much larger problem than the budget deficit.

In fact, we can’t possibly achieve the growth needed to reduce the budget deficit as a proportion of the total economy unless far more people are employed. Workers are consumers, and consumer spending is 70 percent of economic activity. And cutting the budget means fewer workers, directly (as government continues to shed workers) and indirectly (as government contractors have to lay off workers) and therefore fewer consumers.

Yet deficit hawks continue to circle. State and local budgets are still being slashed. The federal government is scheduled to begin major spending cuts less than a year from now. Republicans are calling for more cuts in the short term. Austerity economics continues to gain traction.

Meanwhile Congress is debating whether to renew extended unemployment benefits. This should be a no-brainer. The long-term unemployed, who have been jobless for more than six months, comprise a growing share of the unemployed. (In January they rose from 42.5 percent to 42.9 percent).

Republicans say unemployment benefits are prolonging unemployment, that people won’t get jobs if they get unemployment checks from the government. That’s claptrap, especially when there’s only 1 job opening for every 4 people who need a job. Republicans also say we can’t afford to extend jobless benefits. Also untrue. Jobless workers spend whatever money they get, and their spending keeps other people in jobs.

Government should extend unemployment benefits, and not cut spending until the nation’s rate of unemployment is down to 5 percent. Then, and only then, should we move toward budget austerity.

The job situation is better than it was but it’s still awful. The jobs deficit is still our number one economic problem. Forget the budget deficit until we tame it.

Link to original article from Robert Reich's Blog

Economic and Social Justice - ESJ Articles

IOT-ESJ Articles

Prev Next Page:

'This is the Story of Power in this Country': Ferguson, Institutionalized Racism and the M…

'This is the Story of Power in this Country': Ferguson, Institutionalized Racism and the Militarization of Police

Last week, after days of violent police rampages in Ferguson, Missouri, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Michigan) said the Senate will "review" the Defense Department program that gives military weapons and equipment to civilian police departments for free. It took five apocalyptic nights in Ferguson for Levin to make that statement, but the national dialogue on the militarization of police has begun. Only it didn’t just take Ferguson. It took years of violent arrests. Exposés that revealed small towns being patrolled by tanks and big cities controlled by force. Rampant...

Nadia Prupis | Common Dreams 28 Aug 2014 Hits:298 ESJ Articles

Read more

Meet Carolina, Who Brought Her Daughters 1,500 Miles To The U.S. So They Wouldn’t Be Raped

Meet Carolina, Who Brought Her Daughters 1,500 Miles To The U.S. So They Wouldn’t Be Raped

We met Carolina while visiting a “welcome center” for recently-processed immigrants at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, Texas. She emerged from a sweltering relief tent that sheltered a handful of other fatigued travelers, most of whom, like her, had been released by Border Patrol just hours prior. She stood what couldn’t have been more than five feet tall, but her weary eyes hinted at her age. She looked tired, but then, she should: she reportedly had just finished a journey of more than a thousand miles, and still had...

Jack Jenkins and Esther Yu-Hsi Lee | Think Progress 03 Aug 2014 Hits:456 ESJ Articles

Read more

The U.S.Created Child Migrant Crisis

The U.S.Created Child Migrant Crisis

When a coup removed the democratically-elected leftist president of Honduras in June 2009, receiving tacit support from the U.S. State Department, the American people barely took notice. Then when the United States increased military funding in its little protectorate to reinforce the new right-wing regime installed there, the American public still remained largely unaware and unconcerned. Even after it was reported that Honduras had become “the most dangerous country in the world” a year after the coup (it still is), and that a campaign against drug cartels in Mexico had made...

Hector Luis Alamo, Jr | Latino Rebels 03 Aug 2014 Hits:1566 ESJ Articles

Read more

Has AFSCME Found the Cure to Harris v. Quinn?

Has AFSCME Found the Cure to Harris v. Quinn?

The just-released results of a six-month initiative by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) suggest that the dark cloud cast over public sector unionism by a recent Supreme Court decision may not be so threatening after all. Many analysts saw the court’s ruling last month in Harris v. Quinn as a profound blow to public sector unions such as AFSCME. In a case involving workers who receive state funds to provide home care for people with disabilities, the court found that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) could not...

David Moberg | In These Times 20 Jul 2014 Hits:244 ESJ Articles

Read more

The U.S. Government Treats Detained Immigrants Like Slaves

The U.S. Government Treats Detained Immigrants Like Slaves

The New York Times reported that one national employer relied on the labor of more than 60,000 immigrant workers last year to cook, clean, and do laundry while living behind locked doors and barbed wire. The employer paid them only $1 per day – or in some cases, compensated them with nothing more than soda and candy bars.  In one facility, people who organized a work stoppage and hunger strike were thrown into solitary confinement. Yet when asked to comment, federal authorities claimed that this is all completely legal and none...

Carl Takei | ACLU Blog of Rights 29 Jun 2014 Hits:278 ESJ Articles

Read more

Will the Supreme Court Kill Public-Employee Unions?

Will the Supreme Court Kill Public-Employee Unions?

Forget Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his fellow union-bashing governors. Forget the partisan Republican attacks on organized labor. The gravest threat today to public-employee unions—which represent cops, firefighters, prison guards, teachers, nurses, and other city and state workers—is a Supreme Court case named Harris v. Quinn, which could be decided as early as this Tuesday. And, strangely enough, it is the court's most sharp-tongued conservative, Justice Antonin Scalia, who could ride to organized labor's rescue. The case pits several of the nation's mightiest labor unions, such as the Service Employees International...

Andy Kroll | Mother Jones 03 Jun 2014 Hits:558 ESJ Articles

Read more

AFGE Fights Back on 2025!

AFGE Fights Back on 2025!

SSA Bargaining Unit Employees: SSA is now seeking your ideas for a Vision 2025 plan.  What SSA is not telling you is that they already have a draft plan that is a product of the Academy with the framework of that plan given to the Academy by SSA leadership. The draft plan has certain principles that we cannot agree with.  First it states that the basis for a Vision for 2025 must be that online services are the primary means for delivering customer service.  This is a change from SSA's long time...

Witold Skwierczynski | National Council of Social Security Administration Field Operations 31 May 2014 Hits:326 ESJ Articles

Read more

Invisible Social Security Cuts: Now You See Them, Now You Don’t

Invisible Social Security Cuts: Now You See Them, Now You Don’t

The unseen hand of antigovernment ideology can be found everywhere nowadays – even in your mailbox. The proof is in what you won’t find there, like your annual statement of earned Social Security benefits. The government stopped mailing those out in 2011. It’s also getting a lot harder to find Social Security field offices, or to find someone to pick up the phone, as the Social Security Administration enters into yet more rounds of steep budget cuts. Social Security customer service: Now you see it, now you don’t. The Most Efficient Benefit Program in...

Richard Eskow | Campaign for America's Future 31 May 2014 Hits:724 ESJ Articles

Read more

Jobs group seeks city money

Jobs group seeks city money

The Charlotte economy is improving, but a number of residents pleaded with the Charlotte City Council on Monday, asking that the city not forget those without jobs and low-wage city workers. As part of the public hearing on the city’s proposed fiscal year 2015 budget, a group called Coalition for Jobs asked council members for $10 million in seed money for a jobs subsidy program. The group hopes to find jobs for 1,000 long-term unemployed residents. The jobs would pay $10 an hour, and would be subsidized at different amounts for six...

Steve Harrison | Charlotte Observer 14 May 2014 Hits:394 ESJ Articles

Read more

Student Loan Forgiveness Plans Could Be A Victim Of Their Own Success

Student Loan Forgiveness Plans Could Be A Victim Of Their Own Success

Student loan debt in the U.S. currently totals more than $1 trillion, with some predicting it will only get worse as tuition increases continue to outpace inflation. Recently launched federal student loan forgiveness programs were intended to provide relief to some of these borrowers, but the plans’ unexpected popularity has created a new set of concerns. With tuition costs rising by an average of 6% each year over the last decade and students graduating with an average of $29,000 in student loan debt, which can prevent consumers from making big purchases...

Ashlee Kieler | Consumerist 03 May 2014 Hits:631 ESJ Articles

Read more

80 percent of U.S. adults face near-poverty, unemployment, survey finds

80 percent of U.S. adults face near-poverty, unemployment, survey finds

Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream. Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend. The findings come as President Barack Obama tries to renew his administration's emphasis on the economy, saying in recent speeches that his highest priority is to "rebuild...

CBS News 30 Mar 2014 Hits:630 ESJ Articles

Read more

This is no recovery, this is a bubble – and it will burst

This is no recovery, this is a bubble – and it will burst

According to the stock market, the U.K. economy is in a boom. Not just any old boom, but a historic one. On 28 October 2013, the FTSE 100 index hit 6,734, breaching the level achieved at the height of the economic boom before the 2008 global financial crisis (that was 6,730, recorded in October 2007). Since then, it has had ups and downs, but on Feb. 21, 2014 the FTSE 100 climbed to a new height of 6,838. At this rate, it may soon surpass the highest ever level reached since the index...

Ha-Joon Chang | The Guardian 01 Mar 2014 Hits:777 ESJ Articles

Read more

5 Worst States to Be a Poor Kid

5 Worst States to Be a Poor Kid

    Last year, America placed next to last in a ranking of child well-being in 35 developed countries, barely beating out Romania. A recent report by the Children's Defense Fund helps explain how the US earned that distinction. According to the report, 1-in-5 American children live in relative poverty. Close to half of poverty-stricken kids live in extreme poverty, which means their families earn less than half the  poverty level of $11, 746 per year for a family of four.    Since the Great Recession began in 2009, there's been a 73 percent jump in...

Tana Ganeva | AlterNet 20 Feb 2014 Hits:2848 ESJ Articles

Read more

VW workers not first Southern auto workers to face choice on union

VW workers not first Southern auto workers to face choice on union

All eyes are on Chattanooga, Tenn. as 1,500 Volkswagen workers file into voting booths this week to determine whether they will be represented by the United Auto Workers. Unlike most U.S.-based employers, Volkswagen has remained neutral on the question of unionization, in part hoping that its workers could then legally form a works council like other VW workers around the world. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) and U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) are trying to convince the workers to vote no, and some local elected officials are now threatening to yank...

Lane Windham | Facing South 14 Feb 2014 Hits:521 ESJ Articles

Read more

The Middle Class Is Steadily Eroding. Just Ask the Business World.

The Middle Class Is Steadily Eroding. Just Ask the Business World.

In Manhattan, the upscale clothing retailer Barneys will replace the bankrupt discounter Loehmann’s, whose Chelsea store closes in a few weeks. Across the country, Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants are struggling, while fine-dining chains like Capital Grille are thriving. And at General Electric, the increase in demand for high-end dishwashers and refrigerators dwarfs sales growth of mass-market models. As politicians and pundits in Washington continue to spar over whether economic inequality is in fact deepening, in corporate America there really is no debate at all. The post-recession reality is that...

Nelson D Schwartz | New York Times 04 Feb 2014 Hits:630 ESJ Articles

Read more

Minimum-wage debate rages on: Consensus elusive, despite 75 years of experience, countless…

Minimum-wage debate rages on: Consensus elusive, despite 75 years of experience, countless studies

You'd think debate on the merits of raising the minimum wage would have been settled long ago. After all, it's been around for 75 years in the United States, and it's been examined in countless academic and professional studies. But the rhetoric rages on after President Barack Obama last week urged Congress to "give America a raise" by hiking the national minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from $7.25. And again when Gov. Pat Quinn advocated a raise in Illinois to $10 an hour from $8.25 during his State of the...

Gregory Karp | Chicago Tribune 02 Feb 2014 Hits:470 ESJ Articles

Read more

Where is the left’s outrage over cuts on jobless benefits?

Where is the left’s outrage over cuts on jobless benefits?

Where have all the Democrats gone? It’s hard to imagine a better gift falling into their laps: Republicans have just thrown 1.3 million unemployed Americans out into the cold and are prepared to cut off 3.6 million others who are out of work. At a time when the long-term unemployment rate remains near its highest level since the Great Depression and there are three job-seekers for every opening, this seems unusually cruel. And this tops a full list of similar gestures: curtailing preschool for poor kids; cutting nutrition assistance for pregnant women and...

Dana Millbank | The Washington Post 07 Jan 2014 Hits:763 ESJ Articles

Read more

Federal Court Invalidates Drug Testing of Welfare Applicants

Federal Court Invalidates Drug Testing of Welfare Applicants

In yet another constitutional rejection of mandatory drug testing, a federal judge this week struck down Florida’s program to require drug testing of all applicants for public assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. The ruling makes permanent an earlier ruling that blocked the program, and reinforces many other court rulings that drug tests targeting particular populations are unconstitutional if they are not specifically tailored to protect public safety or another state interest. In this case, U.S. District Judge Mary S. Scriven rejected the notion that there is any...

Nicole Flatow | ThinkProgress 07 Jan 2014 Hits:570 ESJ Articles

Read more

Progressives Must Stand Up Against the Right Wing War on Public Employees

Progressives Must Stand Up Against the Right Wing War on Public Employees

For many years the American Right -- and many of the most powerful elements of corporate and Wall Street elite -- have conducted a war on public employees. Their campaign has taken many forms. They have tried to slash the number of public sector jobs, cut the pay and benefits of public sector workers, and do away with public employee rights to collective bargaining. They have discredited the value of the work performed by public employees -- like teachers, police and firefighters -- going so far as to argue that "real...

Robert Creamer | Huffington Post 09 Dec 2013 Hits:684 ESJ Articles

Read more

Thanksgiving Resolution

Thanksgiving Resolution

Barbie Izquierdo, a low-income mother of two small children, is a member of Witnesses to Hunger, a Philadelphia group of moms dedicated to ending hunger and poverty for their children and for families nationwide. About a month ago while she was waiting in line at a supermarket, she overheard two families trying to make purchases with their food stamps debit card. A computer glitch had temporarily shut down the system; these families and their children of all ages had to leave the store empty-handed. Barbie had to be a witness...

Deborah Weinstein | Huffington Post 26 Nov 2013 Hits:637 ESJ Articles

Read more

This Holiday Season, Charity No Match for Food Stamp Cuts

This Holiday Season, Charity No Match for Food Stamp Cuts

Authors of new report warn food donations not enough as six million threatened with worsened hunger 'Tis the season to give, the saying goes. Yet all of the charitable food donations in the United States this year combined would not make a dent in proposed cuts to food subsidy programs that threaten at least six million people with worsened hunger. So said researchers with the Bread for the World Institute in an interview with The Guardian published Monday. “Virtually every church, synagogue and mosque in the country is now gathering up food and distributing,...

Sarah Lazare | Common Dreams 26 Nov 2013 Hits:743 ESJ Articles

Read more

Sign the Petition

Button-DetroitWater

 

Team Leader - Economic and Social Justice

Randy_Shannon
Randy Shannon
Pennsylvania

Contact us at:
econ-justice@pdamerica.org

PDA Issues

PDA is organized around several core issues. These issues include:

Each team hosts a monthly conference call. Calls feature legislators, staffers and other policy experts. On these calls we determine PDA legislation to support as well as actions and future events.

Economic and Social Justice Chat Room

113th Congress ESJ - Legislation

ESJ - Legislation


Subscribe to Economic and Social Justice
View this group

Audio Recordings of Recent Economic & Social Justice Calls

  • 08-06-2014 Economic and Social Justice

    Listen in this month to guest David Schwartzman, who discusses the job creating potential of confronting climate change and the issue of how the transition to a solar power system can be achieved without economic disruption.

  • 06-04-2014 Economic and Social Justice

    Listen to this month's call to hear about plans to decimate Social Security, what the American Federation of Government Employees is doing about it, and what PDA can do to help save Social Security.

  • 05-07-2014 Economic and Social Justice

    Listen in as we speak with Student Debt Crisis' Director and Co-Founder, Natalia Abrams. Find out what Student Debt Crisis is doing at the forefront of this issue, and about the legislation they endorse (HR 1330: The Student Loan Fairness Act,...

  • 04-02-2014 Economic and Social Justice

    Listen to this call as we discuss the need for a government-subsidized jobs program, in order to create an economy where there is a job for everyone who needs one. Melissa Young, Director of the Heartland Alliance National Initiatives on Poverty...

  • 03-05-2014 Economic and Social Justice

    Listen to our coalition partners at National Nurses United (NNU) speak on the Robin Hood Tax campaign. Bill Gallagher, the Robin Hood Tax Campaign Coordinator for NNU, and Sheilah Garland Political Organizer for Illinois and Missouri with NNOC/NNU,...

  • 02-05-2014 Economic and Social Justice

    Listen to Alex Lawson, Executive Director of Social Security Works and PDA coalition partner, discuss the upcoming battle to protect our Social Security and how we are putting the attackers on the defensive.

Like Jobs for All

Blog Talk Radio Shows

PR Rank