We hear plenty about budgets and deficits - but no one seems to be talking about unemployment or job creation any more. We're still hearing that we're experiencing an economic recovery. It's an odd sort of recovery, when many millions of people are still out of work.
The employment numbers for April came out today, after a lot of sunny talk about how the unemployment numbers are "edging" down. Last month, the numbers edged back up. From Bloomberg:
The number of unemployed persons, at 13.7 million, changed little in April. The unemployment rate edged up from 8.8 to 9.0 percent over the month but was 0.8 percentage point lower than in November. The labor force also was little changed in April.
Even though jobs and the economy are the number one issue on the minds of the public, these topics are getting short shrift by the media and by our elected representatives in Washington. The plight of the long term unemployed has fallen off the radar completely.
Last week, McDonald's announced with much fanfare that, after sifting through more than 1 million applications, it will be hiring 62,000 new workers. As one sly writer noted, a higher percentage of applicants got rejected by McDonald's than by Harvard, though the prestige of flipping Big Macs is not yet on par with a Harvard degree. We will not "win the future" by relying on low-wage service sector jobs to lead employment growth.
Other troubling facts are being overlooked. The outlook for summer jobs for teenagers is the worst on record. The unemployment rate for recent college graduates is 9 percent. Hiring in manufacturing, which has recorded more than 250,000 net new jobs over the past 15 months, has slowed in each of the past two months.
So much for those who tell the unemployed to "go get a job at McDonalds." The so-called economic recovery isn't keeping pace with new entrants to the job market, never mind those who are still unemployed and underemployed since the economy collapsed in 2008.
cross-posted at MainSt/workingamerica.org