Economy, Globe, Politiks, World

Unemployment becomes chronic in the US

An overshadowed statistic in federal data, long-term unemployment (LTU) is one of the most poignant social irregularities for millions of American families, as well as an example of Washington’s disrespect for human rights.

 

Estados Unidos sigue 1Jorge V. Jaime

 

People looking for work for six months or more join another 120,000 job seekers from the first quarter of 2013, a figure intertwining with the general unemployment figure of 12 million. The current long-term unemployment rate is at its worst since 1948.

According to non-governmental organisation The Hamilton Project, Washington’s central government would have to establish a programme creating more than 190,000 jobs per month, in order to resolve the eight year old long-term unemployment situation.

However, given the government’s US$85 billion capital embargo, it emerged that President Barack Obama’s administration has decided to cut subsidies for citizens affected by LTU by 10%.

Barack Obama
Barack Obama

According to official statistics, in a labour force of 156 million, the national unemployment rate, known as U3, has been skirting around 8% since 2012. However, the experts would consider 45% to be an acceptable rate.

Nonetheless, official statistics are known to be misleading, as they do not take into account those who have already stopped looking for work, the quality of the jobs obtained, or those underemployed.

According to a forum held by the Bipartisan Policy Centre, the actual figure is more likely to be 15%, including all aforementioned categories, rather than the 7.7% suggested by Washington.

Estados Unidos sigue 7Last February, the Labour Department reported that the market added 236,000 jobs, and an army of 6.8 million people on the dole were not listed as unemployed because they got tired of all the running around needed to explore options of earning money.

The real figures

According to First Focus and the Urban Institute, one in six American children has a parent who is unemployed or underemployed, making a total of 6.2 million children living in households where at least one close relative or guardian is unemployed.

When taking into account the unemployment variable, the total number of children in these circumstances amounts to 12.1 million.

Estados Unidos sigue 3 Another institutional study confirmed that since 2010 nearly half of US college graduates have had to accept menial work, as taxi drivers, retailers or maintenance employees.

A report from the Centre for College Affordability and Productivity states that the number of graduates has increased dramatically over the past two years, forming a labour surplus of 41 million people, compared to only 28 million job vacancies.

Paul Krugman
Paul Krugman

This trend means that 15% of today’s taxi drivers have higher level diplomas, compared to only 1% in 1970, and 25% of today’s vendors are graduates, according to the report.

The report’s author, Professor Richard Vedder of Ohio University, claims that these negative statistics will continue into the next decade, significantly affecting future university graduates.

Unfortunately, a substantial number of graduates may end up as janitors, cleaners, doormen or messengers. In 2010, this section of the population amounted to 5%, or around 1.2 billion workers, said Vedder.

Those affected

The recession has affected American men the most, and on the road to economic recovery they are monopolising posts previously held by women, according to research conducted by Bloomberg and The Washington Post.

With fewer jobs in construction and manufacturing, men are moving into fields traditionally dominated by females, such as private education, the health sector or the pharmaceutical industry.

JUEGOS 2010 JRP 16At the same time, women have a lesser presence in state and municipal governments, as well as other areas which require plenty of professional experience or specific recommendations.

An investigation from the Pew Research Centre (PRC) revealed that young Americans are now facing the worst labour market situation since the Second World War.

According to the independent organisation’s report, citizens aged between the ages of 18 and 34 have suffered higher cuts than any other age group since 2008.

No way out

Estados Unidos sigue 1169% of Americans believe that it is now far more difficult for the youth of today to find work than it was for previous generations.

The employment level in this section of the population has declined by 54.3% over the past four years, making this the worst figure recorded in all documented statistics since 1948.

The unemployment rate of Americans aged 18 to 24 was 16.3% at the end of 2011, well above the 8.8% average for adults aged 25-64, according to the PRC report.

Between the 6th and 9th of December 2012, a total of 2,048 individuals across ten states were involved in the investigation. The report has a margin of error is 2.9%, according to the Research Centre.

Analysts said that the majority of the national data on unemployment is a farce, and told markets to be aware of government figures.

Estados Unidos sigue 6John Hussman, president of investment firm Hussman Funds, concludes that there is nothing to celebrate, and that the number of unemployed in all sectors – with the exception of agriculture – has increased by nearly two million people.

In addition, Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize Winner in Economics, said that the long-term unemployment level in the US is comparable to that of the Great Depression in 1930.

In the US, the financial crisis, which hit its worst period between 2007 and 2009, has destroyed 3.6 million jobs. The total number of unemployed stood at 11.6 million after associations such as Microsoft, Boeing, Caterpilar and Home Depot fired up to 200,000 employees in 2009. (PL)

 

(Translated by Marie-Thérèse Slorach – Email: marietherese.slorach@gmail.com)

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