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Archive for May 16th, 2009

The Unemployment Curse.

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The Unemployment Curse.

According to the Bureau of Labor statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor, “ since the recession began in December 2007, 5.7 million jobs have been lost, in April 2009, job losses were large and widespread across nearly all major private-sector industries. Overall, private-sector employment fell by 539,000.” As a result the unemployment rate rose from 8.5 to 8.9 percent.

With the unemployment rate the highest in 26 years, it is safe to say that this might be the most challenging issue facing the Obama administration. In spite of the 67 percent approval rating President Obama has at the moment, the continuing negative unemployment figures will be extremely damaging to the president and his Party during the mid-term election and further.

President Obama commenting on the April, 2009 unemployment figures said, “While it’s somewhat encouraging that this number is lower than it’s been in each of the past six months, it is a sobering toll. It underscores the point that we’re still in the midst of a recession that was years in the making and will be months or even years in the unmaking; and we should expect further job losses in the months to come.”

It is sobering, indeed. And it is totally sad that the encouragement that the U.S. economy is getting is not from higher employment figures, but from lower unemployment figures from the previous month. In other words, the economy is falling all right, but thank God it is not falling as fast as it was falling the previous month.

As if the U.S. economy is not in a dire strait, as it is, the plan of Chrysler and General motor’s plan to eliminate about 2300 retailers is estimated to add another 100,000 to the already bloated unemployment figure. This continuous slide in the unemployment figures is a sign of either that the recession is much deeper than the government is letting us know, or much worse than the administration itself might have anticipated.

In either case, one would be forced to think of the doubts many economists have aired about the stimulus plan and President Obama’s job creation scheme, including the Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.

If there is one guarantee for the rebounding of the economy, it is consumer spending. For that, people need to be employed. Unless the employment situation improves, all the billions of dollars thrown to the banks and the Wall Street giants will be for naught.

Mekonen Haddis

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