Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sorry, Mr. President, I Am Not Impressed

Initial jobless claims that were filed last week were the lowest in six months, reports Julianne Pepitone for

But that is hardly much consolation for folks like me, who have been out of work a year or more.

Actually, I haven't been out of work for quite a year, yet. But I got my notice yesterday that my unemployment benefits will expire before long, about a month before my lease expires.

"There were 522,000 initial jobless claims filed in the week ended July 11, down 47,000 ... from a revised–up 569,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said," writes Pepitone. "The number of claims was the lowest since the 488,000 claims reported in the week ended Jan. 3, a week that included the New Year holiday."

The drop in claims, Pepitone writes, may have been due to "quirks in the auto industry" and not any rebound that is under way in the national economy.

Typically, there are seasonal layoffs in the auto industry at this time of the year.

"But in this 'abnormal year,' many of the auto and manufacturing layoffs occurred earlier in the year," she reports.

Meanwhile, Pepitone's colleague, Paul La Monica, observes for that "[t]he economy seems to be getting better," but "people seem to have a decidedly different view. It's hard to find things to be happy about when the unemployment rate is at a more than quarter–century high of 9.5% and the housing market remains in shambles."

When Barack Obama was elected president in November and then he and the Democrats in Congress pushed through a "stimulus package" of nearly $800 billion, a lot of people, myself included, expected to see some positive changes.

Maybe I got the impression that jobs were a priority when Sen. Ben Nelson bragged, after participating in a congressional compromise in February, that the lawmakers should be called "the jobs squad" and when Obama, after signing the legislation, told his countrymen that the stimulus "mark[s] the beginning of the end — the beginning of what we need to do to create jobs for Americans scrambling in the wake of layoffs; to provide relief for families worried they won't be able to pay next month's bills; and to set our economy on a firmer foundation."

I don't recall Obama saying anything at the time about jobs being created a couple of years down the line.

Well, I have seen the groundwork laid for some long–term projects and a lot of pork that was inserted into the package to pacify some members of Congress. But we're continuing to lose hundreds of thousands of jobs every month. And there is no telling how many people, who voted for Obama because he promised to restore their hope, are losing their hope as they see only evidence of more pandering to the moneyed interests.

I'm not saying the long–term projects in the stimulus package aren't important because they are. But the urgent priority was — and still is — jobs. If any jobs have been created, that tidbit of news hasn't been reported.

It makes me wish we had a Howard Beale who would come on the evening news and urge his listeners to go to their windows and yell, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

If all of the officially unemployed people — all 6.5 million of us — along with the unofficially unemployed people — the ones who are working at part–time jobs or low–paying jobs or who have given up altogether — would do that, maybe it could be heard in Washington.

Do you think it is worth a try?

If it isn't, maybe they will get the message in November 2010. But, by then, it will be too late.

For a lot of people.

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