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Middle Class Declines as Unemployment Grows

With 10% unemployed, auto industry prospects remain poor.

by on Oct.05, 2009

We need to protect and create manufacturing jobs, not continue to shed them

We need to protect and create manufacturing jobs, not continue policies that eliminate them.

The recession wracked U.S. economy shed another 263,000 jobs in September, as unemployment rate climbed to 9.8%, according to the Labor Department’s monthly employment report.

The largest job losses were in construction, manufacturing, retail trade, and government.

This country has not seen a 10% unemployment since June of 1983, and since then we have shamelessly neglected the manufacturing sector, which creates real wealth.

The ongoing Great Recession – now the longest since the Great Depression– continues to take its toll on the auto industry as the Seasonally Adjusted Selling Rate (SAAR) in September fell to 9.2 million. Year-to-date sales are off 27%, no surprise since consumer confidence is badly shaken.

The political spin that only losing 250,000 jobs a month is an improvement when compared with 700, 000 sackings a month earlier this year rings hollow. Even if some slight economic growth is coming, 2009 will be a year in which a mere ten million vehicles will be sold, in an industry that was running 50% higher than that for a decade. The ripple effect through the economy now looks more like a tsunami.

Even government jobs are declining, in spite of the $787 billion “stimulus” package passed by the Obama administration earlier this year. As tax revenues continue to decline, even the government is forced to pare employment.

Unemployment rates for the major groups–adult men (10.3%), adult women (7.8%), teenagers (25.9%), whites (9.0%), blacks (15.4%), Hispanics (12.7%) and Asians was (7.4%) –showed little change in September.

The stark fact is that rates for all major worker groups are much higher than at the start of the recession.

Among the unemployed, the number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs rose by 603,000 to 10.4 million in September. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) rose by 450,000 to 5.4 million. In September, 35.6% of unemployed persons were job-less for 27 weeks or more.

Employment in manufacturing fell by 51,000 in September. Over the past 3 months, job losses have averaged 53,000 per month, compared with an average monthly loss of 161,000 from October to June. Employment in manufacturing has contracted by 2.1 million since the onset of the recession.

Last fall, the U.S. financial system failed to do its job of allocating risk, and would have failed outright if it wasn’t for U.S. taxpayers.

It was just a year ago that, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were put into government receivership. Lehman Brothers failed. Merrill Lynch, Wachovia and Washington Mutual on the verge of collapse were sold at salvage prices.  AIG, the world’s largest insurer only avoided bankruptcy with $85 billion in taxpayer funding. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley became bank holding companies to save themselves. When Congress’ first attempt to pass the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (EESA) failed, the stock market took a historic plunge.  In three months, $5,000,000,000,000 of Americans’ household wealth evaporated. Economic activity around the world ground toward a halt.

Henry Ford understand a simple economic fact – if his workers earned a living wage, they could afford to buy his cars. Our politicians have forgotten this, if they ever knew it.

Clearly something needs to be done. And done now.

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