David Brooks is off today

The employment situation in the United States is much worse than even the dismal numbers from last week’s jobless report would indicate. The nation is facing a full-blown employment crisis and policy makers are not responding with anything like the sense of urgency that is needed.
The worst news, with the most ominous long-term implications, was that the reason [July's] unemployment rate was not higher was because 181,000 workers left the labor force... With many of them beaten down by the worst jobs situation since the Great Depression, they just stopped looking for work. And given the Alice-in-Wonderland way in which we compile our official jobless statistics, they are no longer counted as unemployed.
We’re not heading toward the danger zone. We’re there. The U.S. will not remain a stable society if this great employment crisis is not addressed head-on — and soon. You cannot allow joblessness on this scale to fester. It’s wrong, and the blowback will be as destructive and intolerable as it is inevitable.


Alice-in-Wonderland indeed. When we moved out to the rust belt (interestingly enough, because it was the only place where I could find work), we figured it would be at least three months before my partner could find work. Twenty five months later, I guess we were right. Our contacts with connections and decades of experience have all been laid off. I dunno what they're doing... early retirement, I guess.

My partner's gone from wanting a job to planning on waiting until after all of our kid(s) are in school. This isn't because we don't need the money or because my partner doesn't want a job, but have you seen the want ads lately? Me neither.

We're looking at a lost decade. I mean, yeah, there'll be great times n' such, but saving? Not so much. Dental issues fixed? Not so much. Other medical issues? Nope. House? No way in hell. College funds and family vacations are just laughable. It's the same throughout my city. Two years ago, I moved to a city where seemingly every other building was abandoned. Since then, factory after factory has been shuttered, and the jokes have gotten more and more macabre.

Not having a paying job can give you plenty of time to pursue any number of things, but a lot of them are off limits if you need to savor every last gallon of gasoline. Sure, you could get a hybrid, but.. oh. You could take the bus, but the buses don't come very often these days. Do you have any idea how much the zoo costs?!? You might as well sit on the couch and watch Maury Povich. Before Michigan or Ohio adopts that as state slogan, we might want to do something, because our collective depression is positively crushing.

Herbert's right, this economy is destructive. The media's coverage of economic issues is equally so. We are not in a recovery. I do not want to discuss how long this recovery will take, or whether this recovery is slowing, or whether the stimulus worked enough. There has been no recovery. Acting as if there has been a turn around only serves to alienate my neighbors from our leaders even further. Do they not see us, or do we just not matter? Perhaps both.

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