Contrary to Obama administration and media claims about the recession “easing,” millions of Americans are losing their jobs, earnings and health-care benefits at an alarming pace.
While executives at Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and other financial giants prepare to pay themselves billions of dollars this year in salaries and bonuses, life has continued to become more and more difficult for a broad layer of the population.
According to The New York Times, in California and a number of other states, “one out of every five people who would like to be working full time is not now doing so.” The official jobless rate of 9.5 percent excludes both those who have stopped looking for jobs and those who can find only part-time employment.
If these unemployed and underemployed were included, the true jobless rate in California would be 20.3 percent, according to the Times. In Oregon it would be 23.5 percent, in Michigan and Rhode Island, 21.5 percent, and in South Carolina, 20.5 percent.
David Rosenberg, former chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch, argues: “The official ranks of the unemployed have doubled during this recession to 14 million and if you take into account all forms of labor market slack, the unofficial number is bordering on 30 million, another record.” The figures on job losses in the current slump are staggering.
Job openings in the US have dropped by 42 percent since the end of 2007. In June 2009 there were some six unemployed looking for every job.
As serious as they are, the jobless figures are only part of the story. Public and private employers across the country are taking advantage of the recession to cut wages, hours (through “unpaid leave,” “furloughs” and other means) and benefits, impoverishing many of those still employed.
The average work week fell to 33 hours in June, the lowest since data was collected in 1964, and 48 minutes shorter than when the recession began. The combined decline in jobs and hours in June was the equivalent of a loss of some 800,000 jobs. This is far more than the government – or the media – will admit.
While the latest data from the Census Bureau indicated that 45.7 million Americans lacked health coverage in 2007, experts predict an additional 6.9 million people in the US-a 15 percent increase-will lose their health coverage by the end of 2010.
Fox News’ Neil Cavuto had a Canadian lady on his show to demonstrate how long she had to wait for an operation to relieve her painful back condition in Canada – three years.
I know an American lady who has been waiting for that same operation for 14 years. She may be able to “afford” the same $30,000 operation when she becomes eligible for Medicare in 13 years – bringing her total wait to 27 years – that is, if the pain medication does not finish her off first.