Thursday, September 16, 2010

Jobs Jobs Jobs and No Jobs

The unemployment figures came out and new claims for unemployment were down but overall the number is still at 9.6%. That's according to the Labor Dept. I realize that the other issue is that it's difficult to keep track of a running average but there's another figure that's not reported. That would be the number of people who've run out of unemployment (the 99ers) that aren't counted. What, we've become non people all of a sudden?

The true tragedy in those latter uncounted numbers is what's happening to them. Through no fault of their own they were cut from the payroll. Some may have been empire builders spending beyond their means but I suspect most were just going about their lives with no clue as to what was about to happen. When housing collapsed it took with it mortgage banking and construction. Unless you bought your place many years ago you soon found yourself upside down with your mortgage. With no job and relying on unemployment you find 2/3 of the checks going to a house payment. You're stuck. You can't sell your house to pay off the mortgage and you can't afford to live there much longer.
I'm sure many of these people walked away from their homes and are now either renting or living with relatives or worse. But with the end of unemployment there's an even larger problem. The 99ers are draining their savings to survive. They are also cashing out their retirement plans. What's left of their retirement plans after the Wall Street melt down is being slowly used up. That's not going to last very long considering the average IRA is around $45,000.

Today the figures for poverty came out and it's not good. Forty three million people in poverty is the highest in 51 years. As incomes decline and more fall into the 99er class I'm sure the poverty numbers will rise.


an average patriot said...

foreclosures are up and those uninsured is now 53 million. I refuse the Republican scum can run on screwing these people and putting Obama on trial. This is really a bad time for us.

Tim said...

And how many of the 99ers have any health insurance. Republicans don't figure that in. Oh yeah right...they don't care either.

S.W. Anderson said...

Excellent post, Demeur. I assure you, I haven't forgotten the 99ers. The fact they are not counted, especially in a recession this serious, is unconscionable. This must be changed, but getting it changed won't be easy. The reason is that no administration wants unemployment to look one bit higher, even in a good economy but especially in a bad economy.

Even without the post-housing bubble recession we were in for increasingly serious longterm unemployment and underemployment problems. That's because of destructive policies and the structural changes they've brought about — ones the media do their best to ignore and administrations do their best to downplay, out of self-interest and political cowardice.

We can go two ways for a solution. One is for the government revamp our trade policies, limiting imports and punishing job exports while at the same time promoting reindustrialization.

The other way harkens back to an idea hatched during the Nixon years: a negative income tax. Under that plan, everyone pays higher taxes when working. If forced out of work completely, or from full-time work to intermittent and/or part-time work, the tax system pays back, to bring the unemployed back up to a decent income level.

That is very much a socialist system. But there's a measure of both economic and social justice to it. With a genuinely progressive tax system, those making the most money automatically subsidize the people hurt, the people forcibly sidelined, by a system that's making the rich ever more rich by undermining the rest.

Demeur said...

SW I find it interesting that countries like Sweden have a minimum wage that equals $16 but a tax rate of 50% which covers medical and all the other social services so they basically make the same minimum wage as we do with benefits.
Our taxes amount to 25% if you include medicare and SS but what safety nets do we have once unemployment runs out?
All the Europeans I've talked to think we're crazy for the way we do things.

Randal Graves said...

Right, what does Europe know about anything? If it wasn't for us, they'd be speaking German and calling everyone Fritz!