Saturday, November 21, 2009

"A Recovery for Some" Single Women Suffer Most

Now we’re learning that unmarried women are among those being crushed by the epidemic of joblessness. As the Center for American Progress has noted, “The high unemployment rate of unmarried women, and particularly the 1.3 million unemployed female heads of household who are primary breadwinners for their families, is devastating to their financial circumstances and standard of living.”
As an employed, older woman I was particularly drawn to Bob Herbert's column last week on the plight of single, unemployed women. (For some dark, arcane reason.) Read it if you have the time, it will enlighten your day, especially if you are someone with a job that has not been affected by the last decade's job drought. I think it very fair to "to wonder why the president and his party have not been focused like fanatics on job creation from the first day he took office." I'll have an essay in a few days about why the bonuses were pushed through at this time precisely in order to allow those at the top of the begging pyramid to take their unearned wealth out of the country before the coming double dip. After that, prayer will be the main jobs program for many of us. (Emphasis marks added - Ed.) (On a personal note, my birthday is Monday and if you have a few spare coins that you might want to donate to a needy person, I would appreciate your generosity. There are many well-run charities that would also appreciate your thoughtfulness. My favorites when I had money to donate to good causes were CARE, the Salvation Army, UNICEF, Disabled Veterans . . . and I'm sure you have your own.) Thank you from someone hoping for the best but facing a very dire holiday season. Suzan _____________________________________

A Recovery for Some

By BOB HERBERT

President Obama’s strongest supporters during the presidential campaign were the young, the black and the poor — and they are among those who are being hammered unmercifully in this long and cruel economic downturn that the financial elites are telling us is over.

If the elites are correct, if the Great Recession really is over, then these core supporters of the president are being left far, far behind — as are blue-collar workers of every ethnic and political persuasion. Nobody wants to talk seriously about class in America, but the elites are smiling and perusing their stock portfolios while the checklist of Americans locked in depressionlike circumstances just grows and grows: construction and manufacturing workers, young men without college degrees (especially young black and Hispanic men), teenagers, and those who were already poor when the recession began.

The economic environment for all of these groups is an absolute and utter disaster.

Now we’re learning that unmarried women are among those being crushed by the epidemic of joblessness. As the Center for American Progress has noted, “The high unemployment rate of unmarried women, and particularly the 1.3 million unemployed female heads of household who are primary breadwinners for their families, is devastating to their financial circumstances and standard of living.”

Mr. Obama announced this week that he would convene a jobs summit at the White House next month to explore ways of putting Americans back to work. It remains to be seen whether the summit will yield anything substantial. But it’s fair to wonder why the president and his party have not been focused like fanatics on job creation from the first day he took office.

It was the financial elites who took the economy down, and it was ordinary working people, the longtime natural constituents of the Democratic Party, who were buried in the rubble. Mr. Obama and the Democrats have been unconscionably slow in riding to the rescue of those millions of Americans struggling with the curse of joblessness.

We’ve been hearing that there are six unemployed workers for every job opening in the U.S., but even that terrible figure is deceptive. There are 25 unemployed construction workers for every job opening in their field, and more than a dozen for every opening in the durable goods industries, according to the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston.

This was not a normal recession, and we are not on the cusp of anything like a normal recovery. The unemployment rate for black Americans is 15.7 percent. The underemployment rate for blacks in September (the latest month for which figures are available) was a gut-wrenching 23.8 percent and for Hispanics an even worse 25.1 percent. The poverty rate for black children is almost 35 percent.

Wall Street can boast about recovery all it wants, much of America remains trapped in economic hell.

It will take a monumental leadership effort by the administration and Congress to spark the kind of changes necessary to transform this wretched employment landscape. Ross Eisenbrey of the Economic Policy Institute has written: “By itself, the private sector is unable to create jobs in the numbers the United States needs to obtain a robust, full economic recovery.”

If that’s true, and I have long believed it to be the case, then we need to rethink our entire approach to employment. Conventional efforts to kick-start economic growth are dwarfed by the vast scale of the problem. Bold new efforts — creative efforts — are needed.

A recent survey for the policy institute found that one in four families had been hit by a job loss during the past year and 44 percent had suffered either the loss of a job or a reduction in wages or hours worked. Economic insecurity has spread like a debilitating virus through scores of millions of American families.

What kind of recovery are we talking about if blue-collar workers, and men and women without college degrees, and large percentages of ethnic minorities and the young and the poor are not part of it? And how can any recovery be sustained if economic insecurity is a permanent feature of even middle-class life?

The financial elites have flourished in recent decades to a great extent because they have had government on their side, with the politicians working diligently to ensure that rules, regulations and tax policies established an environment in which the elites could thrive. For ordinary Americans, it has been a different story, with jobs shipped overseas by the millions and wages remaining stagnant, with labor unions under constant assault and labor standards weakened, with the safety net shredded and the message sent out to workers everywhere: You’re on your own.

We’ll get a chance to see at President Obama’s employment summit whether anything much has changed.

A Beach Bum whom I read regularly puts this moment into a rather unique perspective.

I can handle(s) many things: wars, financial collapse, plagues, and the strange fascination many people have for well dressed trailer trash pushing an overpriced intellectually empty book but dammit I have my limits.

Happy Holidays to you and yours. Drive safely. Suzan __________________________________

9 comments:

TomCat said...

Suzan, I understand poverty, because I live there. {{{Hug}}} and I hope that you're holidays are filled with the kinds of joy money cannot buy.

Suzan said...

Thank you, friend.

I'm no stranger (in better times) to joy without monetary component and it is never turned away from my door.

Hug accepted gladly.

Hope your holiday provides some respite.

S

Greendayman said...

Hi Suzan, I am a single father with two teens that live with me. Our needs are many but our wants are few. I fix computers for a living and as long as Microswift keeps making faulty operating systems I will have plenty of work, but I have had to bring my service prices down and still no health insurance. It is a mysterious dichotomy that people don't rise up against the actual perpretrators of the crimes against the middle class that affect them most. The corporate media is skillful at deflecting blame with the latest shiny object or outrage against ACORN or death panels, or some other such bullshit that just seems to grab the headlines. Why oh why, in what seems like a rational world, can't blame be laid at the feet of those who actually do the deed? And then we hold them accountable. We are a declining empire, soon to be gone as a world superpower because of a few "decisionmakers" that got it wrong over and over again to the benefit of the powerful 1% in this country. We had a good run but after Ronnie, we were through. Good article - Happy Thanksgiving to you.

-g

Distributorcap said...

first happy birthday

second - may all of us see better years ahead

third - a curious week for women - between herbert (whom i love) and the reports on mammograms and pap smears - just seems the misogynists in charge cannot let go

Suzan said...

Thank you for your wisdom, Greendayman (and, oh, if it were only to be), and we agree precisely (and it's documented for us in detail in Tom Frank's What's the Matter With Kansas, which I never thought was just about Kansas).

It is a mysterious dichotomy that people don't rise up against the actual perpetrators of the crimes against the middle class that affect them most.

I like your take except that I don't think those wunderkinds got anything "wrong." They had no worries as to whether their specious theories were right; they knew they won either way. They had been practicing putting out the media messages (lies) that guaranteed their asses were safe since they began to buy up the media and plan their final assault on the uninformed population under their hero Raygun.

We are a declining empire, soon to be gone as a world superpower because of a few "decisionmakers" that got it wrong over and over again to the benefit of the powerful 1% in this country.

Thanks, DC.

As if they have ever relented.

just seems the misogynists in charge cannot let go

Talk about prying that last gun from that last dead white man's hand.

Thanks for the messages of hope, friends.

Now, for that double dip . . . .

s

Beach Bum said...

I wasn't going to write anything about this incident because of how it might make me sound like bragging but this post hit home.

Today my wife and I slipped out of the house leaving our teenage son to watch our daughter to catch a relaxing lunch. We had to take a busy exit off the interstate on the way to the restaurant coming to stop at a red light.

Standing on the side of the road was a guy holding a sign saying he was out of work, had two kids, had been evicted, and would work for food for his family.

This was not some street bum conservatives laugh about being lazy or mentally ill talking to Jesus on the side of the road while swinging around a bottle of cheap wine. This guy looked tired and his clothes were tattered but he was clean shaven and his eyes were clear. Adding even more saddness to an already bad scene a steady rain was falling.

Neither my wife or I had any cash money at that time. Hell, were are the usual middleclass leeches that live off the debit card. But long story short my wife and I could not get the guy out of our head.

On the way home we saw him still standing in the rain with his sign. We rushed down to an ATM and withdrew some money for the guy. He was still standing at the end of the interstate exit when we gave him the money and wished him well.

I know a middleclass bastard like myself should just hunker down with and avert my eyes when the less fortunate are close. While waiting for the light to change the first time we saw the guy there were plenty of other people lined up ahead and behind us who had to have seen the fellow standing the rain as well. None at that moment gave the guy any money.

It's easy for many who still have a job to revel in the benefits of globalization and the new religion of Free Market Capitalism. But looking into a face of a man reduced to standing in the rain, begging for work just to feed his kids should eat up the soul of anyone with a conscious.

From Hebert-November 20th: The idea that the fallout from the wrongheaded economic concepts of the past 30 or 40 years could be contained, with the damage limited to the increasingly troubled urban areas while sparing prosperous suburbia, has now proved as phony as Bernie Madoff’s fortune. Americans, whether they live in big cities, suburban towns or rural areas, need jobs, and when those jobs are eliminated (for whatever reasons — technological advances, globalization) without being replaced, the national economy is guaranteed at some point to hit a wall.

Sorry Suzan for running long.

Suzan said...

No problem, BB.

Thank you for your emotionally resonant post.

I prefer it when you go long.

S

One Fly said...

Oh my - almost left the house without leaving you with a great big HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Have a fun day Suzan and I left you something.

Suzan said...

Golly, wow!

Thank you, friend.

You are one fly I want in my kitchen.

Come on over anytime.

S